New warm-up for young rugby players could reduce injuries

A specialist new warm-up routine has been devised which should reduce injuries to young rugby players by more than 20%. The programme is in four stages concentrating on balance, strength and movement over 20 minutes. The study led by the University of Bath and RFU over three years shows there is a considerable positive effect on those children who carried out the exercises before games and training sessions. Rugby is a physical, contact sport and so any way to improve safety has to be applauded.

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How does it work?

The study tested 2,500 teenage players to show a 72% drop in overall injuries and 59% fall in concussion injuries in those following the new regime – http://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2017-05-18/scientists-develop-programme-to-tackle-rugby-injury/. The idea is to prepare them for the physical challenges they will encounter in matches. The exercises are split into four stages:

· a running warm-up with activities involving a directional change over two minutes
· four minutes training to work on lower limb balance
· resistance exercises over eight minutes
· exercises involving side-stepping, jumping and landing for six minutes

These exercises change every four weeks to reflect the progress made by the young players. The findings are being rolled out and the RFU is developing training resources for clubs, schools and coaches. It also hopes that a study involving adults will show similar effects.

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Professor Keith Stokes of the University of Bath explained that these exercises get the muscles working better before exercise. Traditionally, warm-up routines involve stretching exercises or throwing a ball around. Now, these new exercises will actually improve players’ ability. It is more of a training regime which improves strength, balance and co-ordination – all qualities required of a rugby player.

What coaches can do

The 20-minute workout can be held at the beginning of a training session as well as before matches. Coaches can change their schedule to make it an integral part of training along with exercises, mini games and watching a rugby drill video to improve technique and tactics, such as those at https://www.sportplan.net/drills/Rugby/.

All of these strategies will help to make players better, fitter and stronger. It also has the knock-on effect of reducing injuries to youngsters which could lead to more people being interested in taking up rugby for fitness, fun or for the challenge of competing in a league.

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