The biomechanical, anthropometrical, physical, motor and injury epidemiological profile of elite under 19 rugby players
Steenkamp, Johanna Elizabeth
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Background: The multiplicities of factors, which may contribute to injury from sporting activity, and the complexity of the relations among them, indicate that identifying causal mechanisms poses a challenge to epidemiologists. The identification of risk factors associated with the effect of the injury on subsequent participation may be as important in understanding how to reduce the burden of injuries on sports participants, as identifying factors associated with the injury incidence rate. Aim: The aim of this study was to develop a biomechanical, antbropometrical, physical, motor and injury epidemiology profile for elite U/19 rugby players. Design: A prospective cohort study. Subiects: In this study 77 elite rugby players were used during the first testing episode (October 2005). These players had just completed their school career and were selected to form part of the Rugby Institute of the University of North West. The U/19 first team members were (n = 31) tested again in July 2006. Two different profiles were established. Method: Once approval had been granted by both the players and by the Rugby Institute of the North West University, the players were submitted to a test battery. Anthropometric, Physical and Motor tests were done at the beginning of the season and the players re-tested at the end of the season. A Biomechanical and Postural Evaluation was done once-off at the beginning of the season. The necessary steps were taken to address existing shortcomings identified in the test subjects. After the results had been analysed, individual programmes were formulated, explained and implemented. The aim was to minimize the possible risk areas indicated by screening. Results: The results were statistically processed, recorded and compared with previous literature studies, according to both the total group and the different player positions - these are the tight five, the loose forwards, the halfbacks and the backs. The Anthropometrical, Physical and Motor testings showed a low or nil practical significant difference for the total group after a season of professional training and coaching, with slight differences between the player groups. The Biomechanical and Postural Evaluation proved the group to be dynamically overloaded with poor regional stability and musculature as far as the upper and lower limbs were concerned, with asymmetry and weak core stability of the spinal and pelvic region. A total of 184 injuries were reported over the season, with the lower limbs (58%) and upper limbs (23%) as the most commonly injured body parts; and sprains (22%) and strains (17%) the type of injury which occurred most often. The tight five (32%) had the highest injury rate, with the flanker (13%) the least injured player position. Conclusion: A profile for elite U/19 rugby players has been determined. This profile can be implemented in conjunction with similar findings in existing literature for future guidelines by coaches and the management to select a better team, to ensure a higher quality of performance and to prevent injuries.
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