Preventing Shoulder Injuries in Adolescent Rugby Players
Achieving a balance in life is a truism that can be applied to preventing shoulder injuries in adolescent rugby players.
Predisposing adolescent rugby players to shoulder injuries are:
- their adolescent growth spurt;
- existing genetic factors, for example, the bony shape of their shoulder joint;
- developing technique and skill as a rugby player; and,
- importantly, the gym/strength training they perform to maintain the ‘balance’ of their shoulder musculature. It is this area that is of concern to this physiotherapist!
Poorly designed teenager gym programs risk injuries
Unfortunately poorly self-designed teenager gym programmes that have too much emphasis on pushing activities eg bench press orientated type exercises within them can expose an adolescent rugby player’s shoulder to injury.
Critically, due to the above predisposing factors, it is important that any gym programme include adequate amounts of pulling exercises eg bench pulls, seated rowing, reverse flys, lat pull-downs etc. Further the maximum weight that one can push should be equal to that being pulled. Otherwise muscle imbalances can occur, exposing the shoulder girdle to injury as the shoulders are ‘rounded’ with important structures exposed during collisions.
The consequences of shoulder girdle muscle imbalances are AC joint injuries-generally managed non-operatively by physio; rotator cuff musculotendinous injuries- managed either by physio or surgery; shoulder dislocations of the gleno-humeral joint i.e. the ball and socket which require surgery and then a period of rehabilitation at physio.
Gym strengthening programs designed to achieve a correct balance
will help reduce the likelihood of shoulder injuries in adolescent rugby players.
Written by Brian Payne
The author of this article, Brian Payne, is one of our most experienced Physiotherapists. He has extensive knowledge of all injury types and mechanisms presenting to our rooms. From back strains and headaches through to ankle and knee injuries, Brian welcomes and enjoys the diverse challenges of them all.
Brian proudly boasts of his involvement with the St Augustines College in Brookvale whose 1st XV rugby team has been very successful over the past few years. Over this time, Brian has put in a lot of time and effort into their injury management.