Osteopathy & Rugby Part VI: What are extrinsic rugby injuries?

Extrinsic injuries occur through impact or trauma and, unlike intrinsic injuries, cannot be prevented. Rugby injuries are seen to be most extrinsic injuries due to the competitive, physical nature of the sport.

Examples of these injuries are as follows:

The front thigh muscles (quadriceps) are particularly liable to direct trauma when hit by an opposing rugby player’s shoulder during a heavy tackle.

Ligament injuries to the knee, ankle, shoulder and neck may occur with sudden change of direction, as in sidestepping or when tackled simultaneously by multiple rugby players. Tackling or being tackled is the cause of half of all injuries during match play.

Players on the receiving end of the tackle can sustain fractures of the lower limb, knee cartilage tears and ligament damage, whereas shoulder dislocations, strains, and sprains may arise in players who are doing the tackling.

Falling on the tip of the shoulder can damage the acromioclavicular joint or fracture the clavicle. Shoulder dislocation may be caused by diving with the arms outstretched to touch down.

Your ostoepath can still help with these injuries through a course of tailored rehabilitation through manual treatment and exercises.

Source: Dr Guy Ashburner, Health24, updated August 2011.

Osteopathy & Rugby Part V: What are intrinsic rugby injuries?

Intrinsic injuries occur through variables that you are able to control to prevent yourself from an injury - such as through preventative treatment such as osteopathy.

Examples of intrinsic injuries are:

A torn hamstring or calf muscle whilst sprinting
This can be caused by a shortened stride length due to sitting at a desk or in a vehicle during a working day and injuries occur whilst sprinting and, typically, towards the end of the match when fatigue has started to set in.

Increased muscle and tendon injuries
This can occur through a greater emphasis on fitness training or endurance training. Front thigh (quadriceps) and calf muscles absorb the shock of landing after a lineout, putting pressure on the Achilles tendon which is liable to tear, especially in older players.

Back and neck pain
This is more prevalent in forwards than in backs due to the increase load on the spine in scrums, rucks and mauls.

With an osteopath monitoring your musculoskeletal system they can treat for any problems and develop a tailored exercise plan around your daily routune to minimise and prevent injury.


Source: Dr Guy Ashburner, Health24, updated August 2011.

Osteopathy & Rugby Part IV: How can osteopathy help rugby injuries?

Osteopathy uses a combination of preventative treatment through biomechanical analysis and therapy for rugby players.

By improving the muscoskeletal structure of a player’s body osteopathy can enhance performance and keep the body functioning on an optimal level.

Through specific diagnosis and treatment, it improves the rehabilitation of typical rugby injuries and helps prevent small discomforts from turning into severe injury.

Potential injuries or problems can also be identified by an osteopathic evaluation prior to playing rugby, thereby minimising the possibility of sustaining this type of injury through treatment and advice.

This may be advising on more position-specific running drills, in conjunction with resistance training, will reduce the probability of injury, especially in those players with biomechanical imbalances.

Additionally, but most importantly, it is crucial to pay attention to those niggling aches and pains, especially chronic pain which hasn’t subsided for a prolonged period of time.

Pain means there is a problem – reoccurring pain means there is an underlying problem that needs attention.

Osteopathy can identify and treat a specific problem but will look to solve why the problem has occurred in the first place - therefore developing a long term solution so re-occurrences are not on the agenda.

Osteopathy & Rugby Part III: Preventing common rugby injuries

Rugby injuries are commonplace; rugby places high physical demands on players who can often sustain injuries due to high impact or after an unspecific incident.

A hamstring injury is common in rugby - competing on muddy pitches, with mud sticking to your boots, means hamstrings have to work harder as there is additional weight.

Towards the end of a game, when the hamstrings have become weak and shortened, means they are very your are very susceptible to a hamstring injury,to tears when attempting that last mad sprint to the try line.

Sitting for long periods reduces your ability to have a good stride length and increases the risk of hamstring injury. Hamstrings often shorten whilst working in a ‘sitting job’ – where you spend large parts of the day sat down at a desk or driving for long periods of time in a low seated vehicle.

To combat this, it is recommended that you stretch your hamstrings daily in addition to before, during and post-match. Take your opportunities whilst you can, such as stretching them briefly at lineouts and penalties.

Other common injuries in rugby relate to the neck injury or a back injury, especially in forward players who are bending down in rucks and scrums.

Forwards, arguably, tend to take a higher physical toil in tackles, rucks and mauls. It is not uncommon to see a forward leaving the field of play suffering neck pain or ack pain.

To combat neck injry and back injury during rugby it is important for players to avoid slumping in the changing room. You will spend a lot of time stooping during the match so to do this in the changing room will worsen any neck injury or back injury.

Try to sit with good posture and this will help avoid both neck pain and lower back pain, in addition to any disc problems.

It is also advisable to adhere to a dynamic posture at all times, particularly in training, to act as a preventative measure against back injuries.

Osteopathy & Rugby Part II: Common Rugby Injuries

The most common rugby injuries are the result of repetitive overuse of the body, typically muscle and joint injuries.

These injuries are known as ‘intrinsic injuries’; built-up over time due to pressure, exertion and stress placed on the body.

Intrinsic injuries are more prevalent in rugby players with structural imbalances and muscles or joint restrictions.

The other type of injuries are known as ‘extrinsic injuries’; these are typically the result of impact or when external force is applied directly to the body, such as forceful contact or collision with other players or the pitch itself.

It may be a surprise to find that intrinsic injuries are just as prevalent as extrinsic injuries in rugby. It has been calculated that muscle injuries involving the thighs and calves account for approximately 40% of all rugby injuries.

Recently QBE, an Australian Insurance company, compiled a list of the top 5 common rugby injuries which was made up of three extrinsic injuries and two intrinsic injuries.

Arguably, there is not a lot you can do to avoid these extrinsic injuries.

How can you plan for an awkward tackle that compromises your planted foot and ruptures your medial cruciate ligament?

You can plan for intrinsic injuries – and this is where osteopathy comes in.

Assessment and treatment can highlight a players’ imbalances and where a player may be prone to injury.

It could be down to having one leg longer than the other, muscle tightness or joint stiffness, but during assessment your osteopath will highlight these areas and recommend treatment and exercises to combat foreseeable injury.