Research Reveals Top Professional Rugby League Injuries
References: Engage Mutual Super League
Foreword: This article was provided by Engage Mutual, sponsors of the Super League. It was not a clinical or epidemiological study based upon actual injury data, but a PR exercise for the company that used a survey requesting anecdotal feedback from physios and conditioners at the super league clubs. This was not supported by the Rugby Football league
Unique research among the Engage Super League’s 14 clubs has revealed the most common injuries sustained by professional players – shoulder injuries such as dislocations and rotator cuff damage take top and fourth spots, whilst ankle ligament tears, dead legs and medial cruciate ligament damage complete the list.
Working with strength and conditioning coaches and physiotherapists from all 14 Super League teams, Engage Mutual has identified the most common injuries associated with the professional game. The top five are:
Dislocated shoulder - 26.5%
Rotator cuff injuries (shoulder) - 11.8%
Ligament damage/sprains (ankle) - 17.7%
Dead legs - 14.7%
Medial cruciate ligament tears (knee) - 11.8%
The research was gathered following a survey designed to uncover the common injuries Engage Super League physiotherapists are faced with throughout the season. It identified the parts of the body most likely to weaken by playing the sport and the ones which take the longest to heal.
The survey also revealed that rugby league is ranked as the highest impact sport amongst the physios, with Aussie rules and American football appearing in the top three contact sports.
The worst injuries that the physios have dealt with in Engage Super League were also revealed, with injuries such as a ruptured plantarfascia (foot injury) and ankle syndesmosis with diastasis (multiple ligament tear where the Tibia and Fibular actually spread apart) being pinpointed. A compound fracture of Tibia and Fibular (bones in the lower leg) was also highlighted with the player involved being out of the game for 10 months.
To illustrate these injuries, and the sport’s gruelling physical demands on the body, Engage Mutual has recruited the help of Leeds Rhinos’ Ryan Hall and professional body painter Raphaelle Fieldhouse who spent three hours turning the winger ‘inside out’ to get under the skin of the impact of the sport.
This season, the Engage Super League has seen several players suffer from the injuries identified in the research with many being out of the game for extended periods of time to recover. A recent torn medial knee ligament by Ben Westwood from Warrington Wolves means he will be out for the rest of the season and will also miss the internationals. Similarly, a knee injury sustained by Wakefield Wildcats Josh Griffin and an ankle ligament injury from team mate Luke George mean both players are likely to be out for the next 6-8 weeks whilst undertaking a full rehab schedule.
All professional Super League players will dedicate their entire working week preparing themselves for their next game incorporating a variety of training, such as weights, conditioning, rugby skills, game reviews and individual pre-hab and physio time.
Ryan Hall from Leeds Rhinos said: “In order to be a professional athlete you have to train hard, lead a healthy lifestyle and ensure your body is in optimum condition to resist injury and recover as fast as
“Being able to see an injury on the ‘inside’ of my body, and to also see the difference between healthy muscles and joints, shows how important it is to maintain your health and fitness. Exercising regularly, eating well and ensuring your body is in the best condition it can be is a great message to everyone, not just professional athletes.”
This research was conducted as part of Engage Mutual’s ‘engage with your health’ campaign, which aims to highlight the importance of keeping on top of health and well-being.
James Ogden, Sponsorship Executive at Engage Mutual said: “The research highlights the physicality of
rugby league and the athleticism required to play one of the world’s toughest sports. To minimise the risk of injury, players have a committed regime of physical conditioning and rehabilitation which is built on a stringent nutritional base. This dedicated approach emphasises how the gladiators of the Engage Super League are fantastic role models to us all.”
More information on Engage Mutual is available at www.engagemutual.com