Article Text

Influence of preseason training, fitness, and existing injury on subsequent rugby injury

Abstract

Objectives—To examine the influence of preseason fitness, existing injury, and preseason rugby training on subsequent injury.

Methods—Players were eligible for the survey if they were a member of a Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) affiliated rugby club in the Border Reivers District of the SRU during the 1997–1998 season. A total of 803 (84%) players from 22 (88%) participating clubs provided details of rugby training, injuries sustained, and physical activity undertaken during the 16 week summer period (26 April to 16 August 1997) and their perceived fitness before the start of the season. Observers at participating clubs reported all injury episodes occurring to club players throughout the 1997–1998 season.

Results—One fifth of players did not attend any rugby training during the 16 week summer period; the remainder attended a median of 14 sessions. Throughout the 1997–1998 season, 675 injury episodes occurred to 423 (53%) players during training or in matches. After adjustment for whether players held a professional contract or were amateurs, Cox regression showed a 3.9% relative increase (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.9 to 5.9%) in the risk of injury over the season for each additional preseason training week attended, and a 61% relative increase (95% CI 32 to 97%) for those players who had been injured or were carrying an injury at the end of the previous season.

Conclusions—Injury risk is more likely to be related to rugby training (type of activities undertaken in rugby training, or personalities and characteristics of players undertaking training more frequently) than to overall player fitness. Players who were injured at the end of the previous season were more likely to be injured in the following season. This may be because they do not allow previous injuries to heal sufficiently before returning to the game, or the intensity of their participation may increase their risk of injury.

  • fitness
  • injury risk
  • preseason
  • rugby football
  • training

Take home message

Players who attend rugby training more frequently are more likely to be subsequently injured, but there is no evidence to suggest that this is because they are training too hard or too frequently. Injury risk is more likely to be related to the type of rugby training activities undertaken or the personalities and characteristics of players rather than overall player fitness. Players should be encouraged to allow their injuries to heal sufficiently before returning to the game.

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