Rugby and the Importance of Case Histories

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Rugby ScrumAlthough the Football World Cup is in full swing, I prefer to look ahead to one year’s time when the Rugby World Cup will be taking place across England and Wales.

Rugby is a fast paced, gruelling sport, and I love it. I grew up in Dubai and was lucky enough to work at the IRB Rugby 7s tournament there, and found myself hooked from a young age. Rugby is a big part of the social life at the University of Glasgow, where I studied Physiology and Sports Science. There I learned how the human body is able to adapt and respond to different environments as well as the effects of sport and exercise.

Sport and remedial massage therapists are increasingly being called upon to be part of the medical teams for elite athletes. When I had the opportunity to work with Saracens RFC while completing my sport & remedial massage therapy (SRMT) diploma, I jumped at the chance. I learned so much working with the other professionals in the medical team while coordinating care for the players. One of the lessons I came away with was the importance of a good case history.

Why is a Case History Important in Rugby?

Rugby is unique in that players have very diverse roles on the pitch. Forwards are involved in the scrums and more tackles and are more likely to be injured during a match. Forwards also tend to need more work on their arms, upper backs and necks. Backs, on the other hand, run greater distances during the matches, and usually require more work on legs and into the feet (for example, relieving symptoms of and preventing plantar fasciitis). When I would work on a player for the first time, I’d need to know not only if they were a forward or back, but also their specific position on the field – where were they in the scrum? If they kicked, which leg did they use? I would also need to know about previous injuries, as they are good indicators of areas of future vulnerability and can create legacies of mechanical imbalances. Without this information, I quickly learned, I would not be able to give the most effective treatments.

Why a Case History Is Important for You

Case HistoryThis requirement for a thorough knowledge of the client’s history and day-to-day activities extends to every person we see. When a person comes in for a sport and remedial massage, they’re often surprised that we ask information such as previous injuries, surgeries, road traffic accidents, what they do for a job, and if they have young children, to name a few. We ask these questions because they can explain a lot about what we find and aid us as therapists in ensuring each person gets the best we can offer.

We have all developed a variety of tensions and imbalances throughout our body as a result of our personal history and day to day activities. Often it’s that one small detail – the long-term effects of a twisted ankle or poor posture at work, or the demands on our body from a new job, new baby, or new training regime. We understand you want to get on the table and we will do as much hands-on work as possible, but the vital information revealed in the case history helps us to be more targeted and thus do more in less time.

Case study: Construction Worker/Rugby Player

I had a client who worked in construction (using upper body a lot while lifting and carrying heavy loads), and his main complaint was upper back tightness and pain in his right shoulder. Initially, it was difficult to identify why his discomfort and reduced movement was primarily presenting in his right shoulder. I took him through the usual range of movement tests around the shoulder and took a thorough case history to get a more precise idea of his day-to-day activities and job responsibilities. It wasn’t until he mentioned his regular weekend rugby match that we were able to identify the cause of his right shoulder pain.

He played blind-side flanker, which means he is on the left-hand side in scrums, using his right shoulder to keep position and move the scrum forward. This translates to a lot of power and force being placed onto his right shoulder. Unless he wanted to give up rugby (which he didn’t) this isn’t exactly an action he can stop doing. Over a few sessions, using a combination of soft tissue techniques to release the tension in his shoulder and putting together a few stretches to perform after matches/during work, we were able to effectively reduce his discomfort both at work and after rugby matches and increase his range of movement. He now reports greatly reduced discomfort and is able to continue being an effective flanker in the scrum.

In Conclusion

While our case histories may be detailed, they should also be relevant and we won’t ask you questions that are too personal/not potentially related to your complaint. If you’re unsure as to why it could be related, don’t hesitate to ask, we love questions and want you to feel completely comfortable with every aspect of your experience with us.

Morganne is our current low cost therapist and is available Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:30-14:30 and one Sunday per month.

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