You can’t fail to have noticed that the Rugby World Cup is well under way in this country. After months of hype, 20 teams are currently fighting it out to be crowned World Champions as part of one of the planet’s greatest sporting spectacles.
The toll these matches take on the modern professional cannot be overstated, however, and much of the media focus during the 2015 World Cup has been around player safety and the growing dangers associated with this most intense of sports. Here’s why we’ll be on the edge of our seat throughout the tournament, and what we recommend to those who play this awe-inspiring sport.
A professional rugby tackle has the same effect as a 30mph car collision
Anybody who has played competitive contact sports such as rugby will have heard the phrase ‘put your body on the line’ at some point. But on the international stage this is almost literally true.
According to leading medical experts in the sport, some of the physical effects of tackles, scrums, rucks and mauls are akin to the kind of impact and whiplash effects you might ordinarily associate with a road traffic accident.
Since the sport turned professional in 1995, players have grown become bigger, faster and stronger. In fact, the players of 2015 are more than a stone heavier than their amateur predecessors on average. The result of this is an 80-minute game filled with ferocious tackles the like of which we have never seen before.
Ironically, one of the biggest hitters in the game of recent times, Brian Lima, was given the nickname “The Chiropractor” for his bone-crunching tackles. But in all honesty, his brand of musculoskeletal therapy is enough to give any reputable chiropractor nightmares. See why here.
The effects on body and mind
Rugby is one of the most intense contact sports on the planet and this can leave players susceptible to a wide range of serious injuries. In recent times there has been an increased focus on head injuries such as concussion (due to knocks in the tackle) and neck injuries such as hyperextensions and slipped discs (commonly due to scrummaging).
In addition to this, shoulders, knees, lower back, hips and ankle injuries are all regular occurrences, and it is estimated that more than 20% of players will suffer significant injury over the course of a tournament.
Prevention and treatment of rugby injuries
Preparation and prehabilitation are now considered to be defining factors in keeping rugby players fit and healthy, and chiropractic can play an important role in this process.
All of the players competing in the World Cup will have undergone rigorous training and conditioning programmes, aimed not just at getting them as strong and fast as possible, but also strengthening the areas of the body susceptible to injury and ensuring that the body’s alignment is correct to reduce the chance of wear and tear.
Today’s professional teams often feature not only team doctors but also chiropractors and physiotherapists to help manage any issues and prescribe exercises to prevent injury. Chiropractic plays a key role in the improvement and maintenance of core strength and stability – something crucial to both generating power and withstanding hits from opposition players.
Here are just a few exercises we would recommend to rugby players looking to build core strength and reduce lower back pain:
- Bodyweight Squats – squats can do more than just benefit the legs. They can also benefit the lower back by engaging the core and gluteal muscles to improve stability of the pelvis.
- Single-leg balance – improving balance is a sign of a healthier back and core. Simple balancing exercises can improve muscles’ ability to stabilize quickly and in the right direction rather than compressing the wrong way.
- Lunges – these movements may look simple but they do plenty to improve the alignment of legs, pelvis and back. Increased strength in these areas can go a long way to improve athletes’ running actions and resistance to injury.
No matter how well a player prepares, however, very few make it through their careers without sustaining significant injuries that keep them on the sidelines for weeks or even months. Chiropractic can be an effective solution for those with pain and mobility issues. Through manual therapies and gentle manipulation, motion and function can be restored and muscle pain alleviated.
If you play rugby and would like to know more about how chiropractic treatment can help you prevent or recover from injury, contact us today on 01223 864444.