Spinal muscle activity in simulated rugby union scrummaging is affected by different engagement conditions

Dario Cazzola, Benjamin Stone, Tim Holsgrove, Grant Trewartha, Ezio Preatoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (SciVal)


Biomechanical studies of rugby union scrummaging have focused on kinetic and kinematic analyses, while muscle activation strategies employed by front-row players during scrummaging are still unknown. The aim of the current study was to investigate the activity of spinal muscles during machine and live scrums. Nine male front-row forwards scrummaged as individuals against a scrum machine under “crouch-touch-set” and “crouch-bind-set” conditions, and against a two-player opposition in a simulated live condition. Muscle activities of the sternocleidomastoid, upper trapezius, and erector spinae were measured over the pre-engagement, engagement, and sustained-push phases. The “crouch-bind-set” condition increased muscle activity of the upper trapezius and sternocleidomastoid before and during the engagement phase in machine scrummaging. During the sustained-push phase, live scrummaging generated higher activities of the erector spinae than either machine conditions. These results suggest that the pre-bind, prior to engagement, may effectively prepare the cervical spine by stiffening joints before the impact phase. Additionally, machine scrummaging does not replicate the muscular demands of live scrummaging for the erector spinae, and for this reason, we advise rugby union forwards to ensure scrummaging is practiced in live situations to improve the specificity of their neuromuscular activation strategies in relation to resisting external loads.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-440
Number of pages9
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
Issue number4
Early online date27 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Biomechanics
  • sports injury
  • sports performance
  • cervical spine
  • scrummaging technique
  • lumbar spine


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