Zesty Advice

Common Rugby Injuries: Prevention and Treatment

Written by Amy Fry

During the early stages of the Rugby World Cup, you may recall a scintillating match between the hosts England, and fierce rivals Wales. During the match, England stormed out of the blocks before Wales ultimately secured a famous victory thanks to a last-gasp penalty by a shuffling Dan Biggar.

But despite the result, this famous encounter will always be marred by the fact that player after player limped off the field of play nursing an array of sporting injuries that are, somewhat unfortunately, part and parcel of this highly competitive sport.

Top 5 Rugby Injuries

From big-hitting tackles through to shoulder-crunching scrums, the very nature of rugby can pose a potential danger at almost every turn. According to England Rugby in 2013/2014, the top 5 injuries sustained from rugby were:

  1. Concussion – often the result of repeated or heavy physical contact/collision; Forgetfulness, dizziness, blurred vision and headaches can all occur from concussion. In extreme cases concussion can result in a loss of consciousness.
  1. Thigh haematoma/contusion – often caused when the muscle is subjected to kicks or direct trauma, the thigh muscle compresses against the bone causing muscle damage, swelling, severe bruising and bleeding.
  1. Medial Collateral Ligament injury –the MCL is a band of tissue located on the inside of your knee connecting the thighbone to the lower leg. Injury to this area usually results in a tear and can be caused when bending, twisting or a quick change of direction.
  1. Ankle lateral ligament injury – when this area is damaged it is often referred to as a sprained ankle. This is usually caused from twisting the ankle or a sudden trauma to the ankle. Swelling or bruising can result from this and can be mild or severe.
  1. Hamstring muscle injury – this consists of 3 strong tendons at the back of the knee that connect the large muscle of the thigh to the bone and are responsible for the bending and flexing of the knee. The most common injury in this area is a pulled hamstring referring to the strain of one or more of these tendons. This occurs during running and kicking and when a player has not warmed up efficiently. Depending on the severity of the injury players can sometimes hear and feel an audible “pop” when the muscle if pulled.



Whether you’re just starting, or are an accomplished pro, there’s a strong chance that at some point in your career, you’re going to pick up a knock or two – but that isn’t to say that every match has to end in a trip to your local x-ray!

From simple stretches through to tiny tweaks in your game, there are loads of things you can do to prevent getting injured – so before you strap on your scrum cap or bite into you gum shield, let’s take a look at what you can be doing to prevent picking up a nasty knock the next time you hit the field with your team.

Stretch it out…
By stretching the muscles you’re likely to use throughout a game, you’ll go a long way in reducing the risk of any strains, pulls or tears. As your muscles stretch, the tendons and fibres that link to the bone lengthen, which in turn, strengthens the muscles each and every time you play!

Game ready…
You wouldn’t forget to wear trousers when picking up a loaf of bread from the shops, so why would you forget your scrum cap or mouth guard when playing a game of rugby? By investing in some protective gear such as body armour, shoulder pads and the aforementioned scrum cap, you’ll be softening the blow from some potentially massive hits – which makes a lot of sense when you consider concussions are among the most common knocks picked up in the sport!

Change your game…
If, after buying a shedload of gear and stretching like a pro, you’re still picking up more bumps than an inner city car park, it’s probably time to start looking at some of the ways in which you can change your game. Going full throttle during Tuesday night training? Try stepping away from the rucking shield and practice your catching once in a while. Whatever you decide, remember there are loads of ways in which you can change your game. However, if you’re still struggling with persistent pain whenever you hit the field, it might be time to speak to a trained medical professional or physiotherapist.


…and the cure

So you’ve gone and done it again. You’ve changed your game, bought all the right gear and yet here you are nursing a sprained ankle for the fifth time this year. Sound familiar? Well, it’s too late to think about prevention – so it’s best that we move straight onto the cure. From extensive physio to sports massage, here are our top tips to treating your tricky injury.

Master the basics…
Ever heard of the term RICE? It means rest, ice, compression and elevation – so if you’ve picked up some nasty-looking damage on the field, be sure to learn this off by heart. It may sound basic, but by simply applying an ice pack and elevating your injury at night, you could cut your healing time considerably – which is always handy when there’s a big game looming in the not-so-distant future.

After overstretching, tearing or snapping a certain muscle, ligament or tendon, it’s imperative that you get working on a range of physio exercises to avoid your injury healing incorrectly. If you allow them to, your muscles will soon form in an abnormal fashion, which may hinder your progress even further. As soon as your physio allows it, try walking on an injured leg without crutches. Likewise, if it’s your shoulder that’s causing you issues, be sure to work on your daily exercises religiously – any failure to do so may limit your movement for a significant amount of time.

Sports massage…
Helping to relieve muscle tension, fatigue and swelling, sports massage is a really useful method of dealing with common injuries such as pulled muscles, small sprains or back pain. By breaking down scar tissue, encouraging circulation, and improving elasticity, the good news is that you’ll be able to unwind and relax as your muscles work their way back to full fitness!

In the event of any injury it is best to see a specialist in order to get the correct treatment as quickly as possible. Zesty has a wide range of Physiotherapists and Sport Massage available to book today.

About the author

Amy Fry

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