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Rugby Prehab

February 5, 2024

This blog series has discussed the most prevalent injuries in rugby; their risk factors, incidence, mechanism of injury and severity. To conclude this series, we discuss injury prevention programs that can be practically implemented. ‘Activate’ is a 7-phase program that is aimed towards injury prevention, researched and designed by England’s Rugby Football Union.

The research behind the program revealed a 40% decrease in the incidence of overall lower limb injuries. Even more significantly, hamstring and knee ligament injuries discussed earlier in this series reduced by 70% respectively due to the program. Activate also resulted in a 59% reduction in concussion incidence. Results like these speak for themselves in the value that a program like Activate can offer the rugby community. So, what does Activate entail? Each of its 7 progressive phases are designed be integrated to standard training sessions and each phase lasts 4-6 weeks. Each phase consists of 15 exercises.

The exercise itself is based on 3 key concepts geared towards injury prevention. ‘General movement control’ exercises aim to improve players’ adaptability and reactivity in contact plays. ‘Pre-activation’ involves core exercises with the goal of neuromuscular development. ‘Functional conditioning’ focusses on muscle activation, particularly head and neck stabilisers which assist in curtailing the rapid acceleration/deceleration of the head or ‘whiplash’ effect that causes concussion.

It’s worth mentioning that the overwhelmingly positive results from Activate were based on players that closely adhered to the program by engaging in Activate 3 times weekly. In practice, enacting prevention programs requires proactive progression of current training methods, and programs like Activate are both convenient and research-based tools for players and management. If we’re paying attention to injury incidence and the toll it takes on players and their teams, the only proactive measures that can be taken is to incorporate preventative steps for player welfare.

Activate is available at here.