What to do when you have a recurring knee, shoulder or neck pain?
Updated: Feb 10, 2019
Rugby season is upon us. We have the Aviva premiership starting in September (fixtures), and the autumn internationals starting in November (fixtures). We also have the start of the local social rugby club games.
These are the clubs where pre-season training tends to start around July and August, where training is typically on a Tuesday and Thursday evening (unless work gets in the way but that’s OK because you’re still available to play in the match on Saturday), and where the success of the team on Saturday is partly determined by the collective sizes of the team hangovers, and where the “clubhouse has cheap beer and Jägermeister”. (I’m sure I’m being unfair to many of the social rugby clubs, but it paints a good picture to make a point.)
With rugby, whether it's a social club, or first-flight professional team, physical preparation is everything: without a structured, regular program of pre-season training, any enjoyment of the game will be offset by, at best, painful niggles and stiffness; at worst, season-ending injury.
This does not mean one has to resort to military-style boot camp. South African fans will recall the disastrous "Kamp Staaldraad" where the Springbok squad endured days of punitive "training", often naked in freezing conditions (see here) . This was supposed to get them into the mental and physical conditions that would help them win the 2003 Rugby World Cup, but, some would say thankfully, resulted in the team crashing out in the quarter finals, ensuring that this method quickly got abandoned.
I’m also not suggesting that, as a local club player, you forego the fun involved. This is a SOCIAL local club after all. I am, however, advising you to balance the fun with good physical preparation.
Rugby requires speed, agility, and strength, and involves hard physical contact. If you are desk bound 5 days a week (that’s approximately 40 hours of sitting and inactivity) and depend solely on two 90-minute training sessions a week to render your body rugby match ready, you are going to find yourself in a world of pain.
Taken from the England Professional Rugby Injury Surveillance Report for the 2015-16 season (see the full report here), this table indicates the incidence of injury.
MCL = Medial collateral ligament (knee)
ACJ = Acromioclavicular joint (shoulder)
Cervical stinger / burner = nerves in the neck being overstretched or compressed.
What should you do?
At the very least do not neglect your training. Work on strength, but don’t forget about agility.
Taking it a step further, make the time to have a functional assessment done by a strength and conditioning specialist. This will help you identify your vulnerable areas, allowing you to focus your training thereby pre-empting injury. (We have in-house S&C specialists at Ultra Sports Clinic.)
If you have a recurring niggle, perhaps a hamstring or calf injury that haunts you every season, or a neck pain that doesn’t seem to go away, see one of our physiotherapists or our chiropractor to help you restore normality to the tissue prior to placing it under the pressures of rugby.
If you sustain an injury, do not ignore it, it may well get worse. Book an appointment to see our Radiologist, so he can provide you with an immediate assessment of your injury using his Ultra Sound diagnostics skills.
As a spectator to the sport, I shall soon find myself enjoying the game from the safety of the stands or from the sofa in my lounge. Hopefully you will be enjoying it injury free from the field.