Injury keeping you from enjoying the sport you love is frustrating, and professional and amateur players alike should include a proper warm up in their routine to stay on the pitch and off the treatment table.
With a physically demanding sport like rugby, training drills and structured exercise programmes completed before training and matches are found to improve strength, agility and balance.
Traditionally, warm ups included running, stretching and basic drills that would increase temperature of muscles. Usually this would start with low intensity, building up to competition level activity just before kick-off.
The modern-day warm up
Studies have shown that warming up correctly can help reduce risk of both injury and concussion. National rugby governing bodies in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales have all implemented programmes to encourage a more structured approach to warm ups, in response to increased awareness of injuries and serious concussions. Regular warm ups have also been found to benefit the health of vital organs, particularly the heart and lungs.
Not just on match day
It isn’t enough to just do a quick stretch and jog before the big match. The best results come from following a full, detailed routine regularly. Scottish Rugby recommend at least three times per week: http://www.scottishrugby.org/rugbyright-activate-warm-routine. Before long, the routine will become second nature, and overall health and fitness will benefit from sustained activity.
Healthy body, healthy mind
Further benefits have been found with improved mental health. Along with concussion, mental well-being of modern sportspeople is regularly in the news, and preparing correctly before a match helps to keep a positive outlook.
Keep things interesting
Don’t just follow the same warm ups every time, or things could become stale and motivation could dip leading to risk of injury. There are a range of online resources that suggest new rugby training drills such as sportplan.net/drills/Rugby/Ball-Presentation/Jack-Knife-rugcb0044.jsp. Many resources include written descriptions, diagrams and videos to help incorporate these in to your repertoire, and make sure you take on board ideas from your team-mates for further variety.
Ask your coaches
Accredited rugby coaches will be familiar with these initiatives and will be trained in planning fun and innovative warm up activities for their players to complete. If your warm up falls shy of the posts, speak to the coaches at your club for some fresh ideas.