Weighing in at the Rugby World Cup

Weighing in at the Rugby World Cup

As England gets ready to take on Argentina and then France in the final two matches in their Group C encounters at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, spare a thought for the knees and shoulders of the respective front rows as they size each other up at scrum time.

This weekend, England’s combined forwards will be weighing in at some 922kg against a similarly weighted Argentinian pack. Data shows that today individual rugby union players are 33% heavier than the general public, compared with 29% in 1955 (source: BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine journal – November 2018). The same research also found that forwards had become steadily heavier between 1955 and 2015, with the weight of the pack, comprising eight players, increasing from 112 stone (711kg) to a massive 144 stone (914kg).

Just imagine the brute force of the impact this creates as the two groups of eight enormous rugby forwards come together, each using their strength and conditioning boosted even further prior to the world cup by an intensive training regime, to fight with all their might to push the other side off the ball at any and every opportunity. These individual players are not just supporting their own body weight but also that of their team-mates alongside them and – for the front rows at least – the weight of the opposing forward pack as well.

England Argentina Rugby

It is not a coincidence that before taking to the pitch many of these same players will have considerable quantities of shoulder strapping and/or knee braces or supports adorning their bodies, primarily around the joints which need to be able to take the strain for the full 80 minutes. Wear and tear for these athletes is second to none and injury replacements are common place throughout the tournament as players succumb to aggravating previous injuries or suffering new ones, often as a result of the impact experienced by the very joints these devices have been designed to protect.

The playing career for any rugby player can be short, and for forwards even shorter, since even super-fit bodies start to fail as a result of the intense impact experienced daily. Rugby is a fantastic game but as any ex-professional rugby player will tell you, it is their bodies that stop working before the mind accepts retirement as the only option. Over recent years professional rugby players and clubs are devoting more time and attention to managing bodies better, by employing different training regimes, supplements and medical and holistic therapies. In this way players can take care of their joints and extend their playing careers for as long as possible.

When the time comes to hang up the boots, many find that intervention is required to help restore their limbs and supporting joints to previous working order and it is here that Hydrodilatation – a ground-breaking treatment recommended for joints that are painful and stiff due to the formation of scar tissue may be beneficial.

In other cases, Lipogems® has been found to restore patients’ own cartilage and is a cheaper and less risky alternative to knee replacement. Alternatively, Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) takes advantage of the blood’s natural healing properties to repair damaged cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones. At the Regenerative Clinic this procedure – which involves drawing blood from a patient’s vein, processing in a centrifuge machine and reinjecting into the joint – takes under an hour under the supervision of one of the Clinic’s expert medical consultants. The main aim of this treatment is to reduce pain, improve joint function and potentially slow, halt or repair damage to cartilage.

So as we all show our support for England over the next few weeks, encouraging the rugby squad to push their bodies to the limits of possibilities, the players will be mindful to keep their joints in full working order, to make sure they can take to the pitch in future competitive rounds and, fingers crossed, perhaps even bring the Webb Ellis Cup home with them after competing in the Rugby World Cup final on 2 November.

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