Recreational Injury Interventions

Rugby

Background

Hamstring muscles are the most commonly injured muscles in athletes, Upton et al, 1996. Hamstring injuries result in a significant amount of rugby match and practice time missed. Many of these injuries are believed to be avoidable with intervention. Some of the risk factors that can be prevented are; inadequate warm-up, incorrect stretching, inflexibility, muscle strength imbalance, fatigue, previous injury, intramuscular corticosteroid injections, and return to activity before complete rehabilitation following an injury. Warming up hamstring muscles increases the amount of force and length of stretch necessary to tear a muscle, therefore reducing the probability that it will be injured during rugby activity. The study below evaluates thermal or neoprene pants which is another intervention that aids with muscle warming.

The football injury intervention section in this website also reviews the impact of hamstring injury in athletes.


Review of rugby studies:

Author

Upton et al, 1996

Study design and target population

Non-random controlled trial.

Population: 60 rugby players from 10 Western Cape rugby clubs, from Cape Province, South Africa.

Intervention

Players who reported that they had missed 7 or more days of rugby due to a hamstring injury completed a questionnaire about the injury.

Participants were monitored and given the option to wear thermal pants for the duration of the 1992 rugby playing season.

Outcomes

Injury rates, site/location of injury, time lost due to injuries, incidence of injury, time before returning to rugby.

Results

The injury rate for players who wore thermal pants some of the time was significantly lower when using the warmers, (3 injuries/ 1000 playing hours), compared to (57/1000 playing hours), when not wearning warmers.

18% of the injuries recurred at exactly the same injury site, and within 12 days of returning to rugby after the initial injury.

Incidence of injury high in first 3 weeks of the season and in the same period after the mid-season break.

80% of the match and practice time lost was direct result of hamstring injuries.

Study quality and conclusions

Thermal pants may reduce the risk of recurrent hamstring injury.

Inadequate preseason training and incomplete rehabilitation after injury may have a more significant role in preventing recurrent hamstring injuries.

Non-randomized trial, only a small number of athletes utilizing intervention or wearing thermal pants all the time.

Summary of rugby studies

Thermal pants may reduce the risk of recurrent hamstring injury. Rugby players may benefit from wearing them, in particular, during times when the incidence of injury is high or in the first 3 weeks of the season and in the same period after mid-season break. Utilization of this prevention intervention may reduce the match and practice time lost due to injury.

Recommendations on rugby

At the present time it is not clear whether thermal pants or warmers protect players from recurrent hamstring injury. However, there may be a reduced risk of injury and they could be utilized as an prevention intervention.

Recommendations for future research

There is a definite need for well-designed, large-scale randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to evaluate the effect of thermal pants. This is the only way that all the other confounders can be controlled for. Additionally, studies that evaluate other risk factors such as, inadequate preseason training and incomplete rehabilitation should be conducted.