Rugby Union & NRL injuries you need to watch out for! The overuse injuries

Rugby Union & NRL injuries

Regardless of the team you support, both NRL and Rugby Union are sports that unite many of us across Australia for at least 25 weeks every year. Unfortunately for fans and players alike, sustaining injuries is an unwelcome but accepted part of the game, complete with its own weekly injury report. According to the injury list for the NRL at the beginning of April, after only round 5 there were already 33 recorded lower limb injuries among the teams, a much higher amount than 15 upper body injuries and the 5 concussions.

While professionals have their own medical teams, physiotherapists in Toowoomba, trainers and coaches to help them navigate through and prevent against injury, the same can’t be said for the social and junior league rugby players on our local fields every week. Because knowledge is one of the first steps to preventing injury, we thought we’d share some of our top rugby injuries, so you know what to look out for and can identify the signs if they occur.

Because there are two categories of injuries in rugby, overuse injuries (repetitive strain and stress on the body from movements during the game) and traumatic injuries (from impact like being tackled by other players or hitting on the ground), we’ve broken this blog down into these two categories. First up – overuse injuries!

Our top 5 overuse rugby injuries we treat

1. Achilles tendinopathy

Achilles tendinopathy describes damage to the Achilles tendon where it inserts at the back of the heel. It connects the calf muscles at the back of the legs to the heel and helps move the foot during physical activity and especially walking, running and jumping movements. Strenuous, repetitive activity can definitely place the strain on the Achilles tendon and lead to micro-tears and damage to the tendon. There are numerous factors that can place additional strain on the tendon, such as tight calf muscles or low-set footy boots that keep the heel low in the shoe. One of the best ways to reduce the risk of injury to the Achilles tendon is to stretch the calf muscles well daily and take even more care in doing so on the morning before and after the game.

2. Knee injuries

Abnormal foot biomechanics, tight muscles and improper gait techniques are just some of the factors that can cause significant knee pain. When it comes to overuse knee pain, strain and damage to the patellar tendon that crosses the front of the knee is a common culprit. Because knee injuries have the potential to cause significant pain and frustration on the field, keeping the knees and quads healthy and strong should definitely be a priority for any social or competitive NRL or rugby player.

3. Shin splints

Otherwise known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), shin splints occur from stress and tension on the tibia (shin bone) or the tissue surrounding the tibia. This results in significant pain at the front of the shins that tends to come on during and after physical activity. Often, the cause is associated with abnormal foot biomechanics and function, tight muscles, and sudden increases in physical activity. The first step to helping reduce the onset of shin splints is to always have a good warm-up and cool-down routine, ensure you’re wearing good, stable footwear that is helping to control and support foot posture and ensure that any abnormal foot biomechanics are kept in check.

4. Heel pain

With a lot of stress potentially being taken by the heel on the field during the game, heel pain can develop in the form of plantar fasciitis, a heel stress fracture, a heel spurs and damage to the heel fat pad, among others. The most common of these is plantar fasciitis, which describes damage to the plantar fascia, a connective tissue band that inserts from the bottom of the heel and fans out to connect to the bottom of the toes. With every step, the plantar fascia is stretched as part of its role in supporting the foot. When the fascia is overused and stressed, micro-tears and damage occur within the tissue, which can make taking a step and running around on the field incredibly painful. Because abnormal foot biomechanics such as flat feet can increase the risk of developing plantar fasciitis and heel pain, it’s important to keep the feet supported and functioning well.

5. Stress fractures

Stress fractures occur as a result of repetitive stress on an area of bone over time that leads to tiny hairline cracks, which can appear in the shape of roots. Symptoms can start with a dull ache that worsens with continued activity. Traumatic fractures, on the other hand, occur on impact and fracture the bone in one or multiple places and are quite painful from the moment they occur. The key is to treat pains and problems early, before they become more serious, more painful, and take much longer to heal!

Aside from these conditions listed above, there are plenty more NRL overuse injuries that we regularly see and treat. These involve hamstring strains, groin strains, sesamoiditis, general forefoot pain (metatarsalgia), peroneal tendinopathy, posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD) and more.

If you’ve sustained an injury or have developed pain while you’re out on the field, come in and let our team of Toowoomba podiatrists give you the best care so you can get back out there with minimal downtime. You can give us a call on 07 4638 3022 or book online.

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