Shoulder Injury Risk and Injury Prevention in Rugby Union Players

  • Vincent Singh

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Shoulder injuries are amongst the most common rugby injuries across all playing levels and accounts for a significant injury burden. The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate strategies that might reduce the risk of shoulder injuries in rugby union players.
Study one found that semi-professional players sustained a greater incidence of injuries (2.8 per 1000 hours, 95% CI: 2.2 to 3.5) than recreational players (1.8 per 1000 hours, CI: 1.4 to 2.2, p=0.004) in adult community rugby players. Tackling caused the highest proportion of injuries and shoulder sprain and dislocation and acromioclavicular injuries were the most common injury types. The highest incidence for all shoulder injuries was reported for back row players (2.9 per 1000 hours, CI: 2.2 to 3.6).
Study two showed that observational evaluation of rugby players’ shoulder girdles by novice and experienced raters has poor to moderate reliability. These findings do not support the use of visual observational tests to determine the orientation of the scapula and clavicle, bringing into question the use of these tests in clinical practice.
Importantly, study three outlined the development process of an evidence-based shoulder-specific injury prevention programme for community youth rugby players using input from a multidisciplinary technical project group, feedback from stakeholders and end users. The fourth study was a pilot study that identified meaningful findings about the vital role of the coach as the delivery agent of preventive programmes at this playing level and the need to address negative perceptions about injury prevention was identified. In addition to this, collecting self-reported injury data using SMS is considered a viable option in this setting.
The final study was a pre-experimental study showing outcome measures that were able to detect change after using a lycra compression sleeve in active shoulder external rotation range, passive shoulder internal rotation range and there were some positive trends seen on the acromion-greater tuberosity distance and shoulder laxity outcomes.
Date of Award24 Jun 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorCarly McKay (Supervisor) & Keith Stokes (Supervisor)

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