Full Motion Physio
Rugby is a speed-intensive, high impact sport. Once regarded solely as a masculine game, Rugby has seen a sharp increase in popularity and participation among women in recent years. In England in 2014 around 15,000 women and girls played for a recognised club. By 2018 that number had doubled.
For men or women at every level in the game there is no other team sport that comes close in terms of the camaraderie, the sense of ‘all being in it together’, the sheer physicality – these are the things that sets rugby apart.
Rugby injury: the cost of the physicality
During the season there is a reasonable chance you will find yourself in the physio room. Why? Because Rugby demands not only the cardiovascular fitness of a footballer but combines this with ‘full contact’. During a single game, players in all positions can average 30 to 40 tackles. The forces involved can be on a par with those incurred in a car collision. So some injuries are unavoidable, whether you are a flanker getting stuck in to a tackle or a lock pushing full-force in the scrum.
The result of all of this is that at amateur and professional levels, up to 25% of participants will be affected by some form of injury – either incurred during training or during a match. Injury rates in rugby are reported to be 3-4 times higher than those in football.
Whether you’ve a suffered a recent injury fresh out of a match or have had a longer term niggle, if left untreated, these conditions can deteriorate over time.
Effective rugby physiotherapy can play a key role in recovery. A good physiotherapist can develop a treatment strategy with you which addresses both the current symptoms and any underlying root causes. With severe conditions, the physio will be able to advise you if further investigation is required (for instance an MRI scan or referral to an orthopaedic consultant).
Common Rugby Injuries
Due to the nature of the physical demands, there are many types of rugby injury. Common ones include ankle sprains, muscle strains, joint dislocations and fractures.
Rugby Injury Prevention
A high proportion of rugby injuries occur at the start of each season – as evidenced by the number of players seeking rugby physiotherapy at that time of the year. The implication of this is that if you play the sport, you could greatly benefit from a pre-season conditioning programme to limit potential injuries…prevention being a far better option than cure. A good Rugby Physiotherapist will have a sound understanding of the sport can and therefore be in a position to help construct an individualised conditioning programme for you. This would include strength and conditioning exercises, mobility work, stretches, and movement drills. The key is that these exercises are geared to the specific demands of the rugby and to you as an individual.
Rugby injury: the mental battle
The mental strain of an injury can be significant. Time passes, the body compensates, and worst of all, you end up with a new niggle that had nothing to do with the initial injury! At this point the finish line may seem like a distant spec.
For this reason, good rugby physiotherapy is not simply about ‘physical therapy’. A good physio with experience in sports rehabilitation should understand the pressures and frustrations you may feel, be able to properly interact with you at each stage and encourage you when times are challenging. The relationship is key.
Where necessary the physio should be able to act as a buffer between you and the club, because while it is important that you need get back playing as soon as possible, the overriding priority must be to get back safely and minimise the possibility of injury recurrence.
Selecting a Rugby Physiotherapist
Look for a physio with a wide experience in sport (since the range of injuries in rugby is wide). It is highly desirable for the physio to be familiar with the key physical demands of rugby.
In addition to the technical expertise of the physio, there is growing evidence that the interaction between the patient and the physio has a significant effect on the outcomes of treatment: either positively or negatively. For this reason, try to find a physio that you can really relate to.
‘Individualised care’ means fitting the treatment to you specifically, and continuing to review and refine the treatment at each stage of recovery. (This is obviously preferable to a ‘standard package treatment’ that may not consider in sufficient detail your physical history). Find a physio who is truly committed to this approach. Ask the physio before you commit to your first session how they deliver care. It’s your body, so you should be selective about who you entrust with it!
If you choose Full Motion Physio
I have experience of working with sports athletes at all levels, including rugby players. I will objectively assess your injury and develop a rehab program in partnership with you to help you get back. (I can also help you with onward referral if you need to have a scan or surgery).
My focus is not simply treating and discharging my patients: I aim to provide you with the tools to help self-manage your recovery, giving you a sense of ownership and an understanding of the problem, to help you to get back in action as quickly as possible. I take into account your feedback and your views at every session – the process is very much a teamwork approach, working together to get you fit and try to minimise avoidable injury in the future.
My approach is described in the Full Motion Method page. Extensive research has identified the essential elements for the best physiotherapy. The Full Motion Method covers each of these elements.
One last point: Early diagnosis and intervention minimises the risk of the injury getting worse.
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