The 2016 Six Nations is in full swing and rugby fans up and down the country have enjoyed some great action so far, with fans of England and France still hoping their team can win the Grand Slam.
Injuries have already played a part in the tournament so far, with both Ireland and Scotland likely to play their next matches without one or more of their key players.
According to England Rugby’s injury surveillance report, the following are the five most common rugby injuries sustained in professional rugby union matches during the 2013-14 season. But why are they such a risk factor for rugby players, and can they be prevented at all?
5. Hamstring injury – although they were at a three-year low in 2013-14, hamstring injuries remained in the top five most common injuries among professional players.
Rugby players can tear their hamstring muscle in a number of ways such as not warming up properly, not having enough recovery time between matches and a having a poor running style.
You can help prevent a hamstring injury by following recovery techniques (e.g. ice baths, using a foam roller) and improving your overall running, strength and conditioning training.
4. Ankle injury – at 2.9 injuries per 1000 playing hours, sprained ankles come in at number four in the list of the most frequent rugby injuries.
From awkwardly landing after a lineout to simply rolling your ankle on uneven turf, there are a few ways you can sprain your ankle as a rugby player.
Some players use tape or ankle braces to give the joint that bit more support during a game but others have found balance and proprioception training to be very effective in improving the overall strength and stability of the ankle.
3. MCL (knee injury) – the medial collateral ligament in the knee works to give us stability when we’re walking or running; sometimes when a rugby player suddenly switches direction they can tear this ligament.
If you play in a back position then you can be particularly susceptible to an MCL injury as you’re more likely to be tackled and have more fast changes of direction during a game.
Quite a lot of rugby clubs use speed work during training to help players’ knees become more resilient for those times when they have to turn on a sixpence.
2. Thigh injury – in second place, a “haematoma” is when there has been damage to blood vessels in the thigh, leading to a large clot being formed.
Thigh haematomas happen when a player takes a direct blow to the thigh, something that’s quite common in a contact sport like rugby. Players can’t, therefore, do much in the way of preventative training – instead they should introduce PRICE therapy as soon as possible after injury occurs to help reduce the time needed to recover.
1. Concussion – accounting for 10.5 injuries for every 1000 of playing time, concussions were the most common injury among professional players during the 2013/14 season.
Concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury and is caused when a player takes a blow to the head. It’s a risk that any rugby player faces, regardless of what position they play and whether they are carrying the ball or making a tackle.
It’ll be interesting to see whether these figures improve when England Rugby release their data for the 2014/15 season and I hope all those playing in the Six Nations at the moment enjoy an injury-free tournament.
See my related blog: The Duty of Care Owed to Rugby Players
Tracey Benson is a sports injuries solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
Slater and Gordon offer a free consultation for anyone injured in a sporting accident through no fault of their own. To speak to an expert personal injury lawyer about claiming compensation for a sports injury, call us anytime 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you.