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Exercises to Prevent Concussion

Quel Carreleur

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Nov 12, 2015
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I knew the new warm-up routine was coming in (I think we talked about it here), but hadn't realised that it was supposed to combat concussion as well as more musculoskeletal injuries. It's not the sort of thing that's going to matter at the top level where they already warm up properly and know how to tackle correctly (even if they often fail anyway) and combat fatigue - which seems to be the key.
I would be amazed and delighted if something so simple as warming up properly could combat the concussion epidemic at the amateur level.

Novel Way to Reduce Youth Rugby Concussion & Injury

The severity and lifelong implications of rugby related injuries has been central to press coverage this season, particularly regarding youth players and head injuries. The same can be said for other contact sports such as American Football which has also come under fire for allowing players to continue to play with head injuries and not providing enough support post-concussion.

Thankfully, the amount of injuries in youth players nationwide should reduce over the next season thanks to a research team in Bath (UK). A new pioneering exercise programme for Rugby players has been devised and has achieved staggering results including a 72% & 59% reduction in concussion and injury rates respectively.

The study took place over three years and included 2,500 14-18 year olds. The programme focuses on a series of balance, strength and dynamic controlled movements which are performed before a match and takes around 20 minutes. The plan comprises of 4 stages which are made up of:

A running warm-up with change of direction activities (2 minutes)
Lower-limb balance training (4 minutes)
Targeted resistance exercises (8 minutes)
Jumping, side-stepping and landing exercises (6 minutes).

These exercises are then adapted over the season, reflecting progress made in strength and conditioning.

With regard to concussion, it is thought that the exercises improve alignment and the shock absorbing ability of the neck. The programme will be rolled out in full, nationwide, in preparation for the new rugby season.

The article is open access and available for you to view now.

Read the Study
I'm no expert, but I still don't really understand how warm up exercises can reduce concussion, a result of impact?

"With regard to concussion, it is thought that the exercises improve alignment and the shock absorbing ability of the neck."

I'm not entirely convinced by this to be honest, although as I said I'm a long way short of an expert so happy to defer
Basically - we're not sure why this seems to work; possibly through warming up properly and therefore suffering less fatigue, and maintaining form; possibly through actually doing neck-specific exercises strengthens the neck for whiplash-type concussions; possibly something else I/they haven't thought of yet.
When you look at concussion, it is basically the brain bouncing around inside your skull. It's been shown staying properly hydrated reduces the risk and generally being in good health but besides that the best you can do is avoid your head rapidly accelerating / decelerating in any direction. The neck muscles aren't exactly strong and the sort of impacts that cause concussions would easily be beyond anything the neck could realistically hope to provide any meaningful resistance to. Not really sure how you can do exercises to prevent it.

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