PROTEC in Rugby

In rugby, the lower limb is the most commonly injured area of the body. It accounted for 42% of all injuries at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. A study of South African Super 12 players in 2005 showed that the pelvis and hip were the most commonly injured areas (19%).

Incidence of injury increases in relation to an increase in playing proficiency.

Tackles, rucks and mauls appear to be the phase of play where most injuries occur (40% occur during tackles and 11% during mauls).

Various studies show varied results as to the most injured position. An Australian study showed that the lock was the most injured forward, whilst the fly half was the most injured back.

Fatigue contributes to injuries as most injuries occur in the second half of the match, specifically the 3rd quarter.

A previous injury is heavily linked to being a high risk factor for another injury.


Injury in relation to the back:

Most injuries to the spine are acute injuries.

• One study has shown that players have a functional deficit after a back injury.

• Players may also have an altered muscle response pattern to trunk loading following a clinical recovery from a recent acute lower back injury.

• There is an increased possibility of injury if there is a dysfunction in the protective and load distributing capacity of the spine.

• Normal populations tend to get lifestyle associated back pain whereas rugby players tend to suffer from back pain associated with exercise. However, the structures affected in the lower back are the same in both population groups.

• 80-90% of acute low back pain dissipates within 8-12 weeks, however 5-10% regress into chronic low back pain.

Injuries in Rugby:

• Injuries occur mainly to the cervical spine, however there is also a risk of injury to the lower back and its supporting structures.

• There are numerous forces involved in spinal injuries.

• Low back pain is best categorised by the structure that is injured, such as: fractures to the spinal column, injury to the interverterbral disk, ligament strain, joint inflammation, and muscular spasm.

•With new laws and improved refereeing, scrummaging sees fewer injuries than tackles, rucks and mauls. The scrum however is inherently dangerous because the players are placed into positions that compromise the safety of the spine.

• The forces involved with scrumming place a huge amount of strain on the lower back, especially the discs between the lumbar vertebrae.

• There is however, also a risk for overuse injuries.

• Not only do game-related activities pose a risk for injury but also training and weight-training activities.

Areas where PROTEC can assist:

• Core stability training.

• The lower back is seen as the building block for the lumbar region as muscle groups are connected to this region. For example, a hamstring injuryʼs recovery can be aided through manipulation of the lower back.

• Spinal stability requires passive stiffness through bone and ligament structures and active stiffness through muscle contraction. PROTEC can help to strengthen these areas.

• Neuromuscular re-training following injury.

• Psychosocial improvements of players with a decrease in back pain symptoms.

• Faster return to playing with a reduction in pain symptoms, improvement in core stability as well as flexibility in the pelvo-lumbar area.

PROTEC could be a valuable resource for YOUR medical team.