A series of exercises performed before rugby matches can dramatically reduce injury, according to a benchmark study that the game’s coaches hope will rebut the charge that they do not take the issue of concussion seriously.
The programme, known as Activate, is the result of a project by health researchers at the University of Bath and England Rugby. The results, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, suggest that the exercises can significantly reduce concussion and lower limb injuries.
The regime focuses on balance, strength and agility in order to better prepare players for the physical challenges they face in matches. Split into four stages, it takes roughly 20 minutes to complete. The exercises are targeted to improve functional and core strength, particularly lower-limb balance and neck strength, all of which assist a player in dealing with the physical demands of the game. “By replacing stretching exercises that players typically do before training and matches with exercises that focus on better control of movement, we have seen a dramatic reduction in injuries in this study,” said one of its authors, Dr Simon Roberts from the University of Bath’s department for health. “This new programme is markedly different from the kind of warm-up players might typically take part in during training or pre-match, with a much greater focus on movement control.