How to Avoid Common Rugby Shoulder Injuries

Step-by-step Instructions

Here is what you need to do...
Step 1

One preventative measure that can be taken is to give extra attention to the shoulders during lifting sessions. I will cover specific shoulder lifts in other tips, but focusing on the shoulders during lifts increases the strength and size of the shoulders. Lifts that improve the strength, size, and endurance of the deltoids, trapezius, rotator cuff, and muscle groups of the upper back and neck will significantly decrease the chance of shoulder injuries.

Step 2

In addition to strengthening the shoulders, proper stretching techniques should be used to ensure the flexibility and range of motion of shoulders is at a healthy level. The following steps will outline an array of shoulder stretches that should be done before and after lifts and trainings especially by those with a history of shoulder problems.

Step 3

Arm circles- slow deliberate circles both forward and backward loosen the muscles in the shoulders and back. 10 circles forward and 10 backward is sufficient.

Step 4

Hug stretch- cross your arms across your chest and slowly reach toward the middle of your back. Hold for about 20 seconds

Step 5

Over head stretch- reach one arm over your head and down your back, bend the other up the back and reach your two hands together to lock fingers. Hold for about 15 seconds and switch arms. Note: if you cannot reach your hands together use a towel to link arms and stretch.

Step 6

Pectorals stretch- stand facing a wall and lift one arm out to your side. While pressing your arm against the wall turn your upper body the opposite direction of your arm (turn left while stretching the right arm and vice versa). If done properly the stretch will be felt in the chest. Hold for about 20 seconds and switch arms.

Step 7

Proper lifting and stretching techniques are key to preventing shoulder injury. In addition to these preventative measures wearing shoulder pads gives an extra layer of protection that significantly decreases the chance of shoulder injury. There are no hard pads allowed in rugby so shoulder pads are simply a layer of foam about an inch thick sewn into a tight fit shirt. Extra soft padding can be taped on a specific shoulder if it is prone to injury.

Special Attention

Difficulties people often experience or parts that need special attention to do it right.

Good posture is often forgotten when it comes to shoulders. Keeping shoulders and shoulder blades in a back and down position maximizes strength. If a shoulder is feeling weak, or tight, or sore, using exercise resistance bands can help. The easiest exercise to do with these is to hold a band in front of you with arms shoulder width apart bent at a 90 degree angle with your elbows at your sides. Hold an end of the strap in both hands and pull the band apart keeping the elbows against your body.

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This Student Author's Background

Funny or interesting story about this topic...

I've separated my left AC joint twice during my rugby career. The second time was a stage three tear that took me out for over half my season. Both times, though, I've been able to make a full recovery thanks to quality rehab programs.

When did you first do this & how did you get started?

Shoulder injuries are one of the most common sports injuries for rugby players. My first AC tear happened during my second Fall season with OSU. While physical therapy often helps players regain stability and strength surgery is sometimes required for more serious injuries. I've seen many a good rugby player have their careers ended because of shoulder injuries. While there is nothing that can completely guarantee an injury free career, there are preemptive steps that can be taken to prevent shoulder injuries.

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