The effects of a competitive rugby union game on tuck jump assessment performance in female rugby players
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: Female athletes have a higher anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury rate than male athletes, across a range of sports. Studies have also shown a high ACL injury rate in females during a rugby union game, especially towards the end of the game. This may be due to the demands of a rugby game that cause fatigue. These non-contact ACL injuries typically occur during movements involving pivoting or cutting at speed, deceleration or landing off balance from a height. The initial aim of this study was to examine the effect of a rugby union game on tuck jump performance in females, in order to identify possible ACL injury risks. The secondary aim was to identify any relationship between relative strength and tuck jump assessment scores. Method: Eleven female rugby players (age = 20.1 ± 0.9 years, body mass = 73.2 ± 11.0 kg, height = 166 ± 6.4 cm) carried out a 10 seconds tuck jump assessment before and after a game. The subjects then had to carry out a one repetition maximum (1RM) squat to determine strength. A tuck jump score was calculated from 2-dimensional video captured during the pre and postgame assessments. The video analysis was also used to calculate asymmetry between valgus angles. Results: A Wilcoxon signed rank test showed a significant increase in the tuck jump assessment score from pre-game (2.7± 1.3) to post-game (3.8 ± 0.9). A paired samples t test showed no significant increase in valgus asymmetry from pre to post-testing for both initial and maximum points of ground contact. A Mann-Whitney U test identified no significant difference between relative strength groups for both the pre and post-game tuck jump assessment scores. Finally, a two way mixed ANOVA showed no significant differences between strength groups for both the pre and post-game valgus asymmetry angles. Discussion: The game increased the number of biomechanical deficits that are linked to ACL injury. These alterations are believed to be due to fatigue changing the players’ neuromuscular control. These results suggest that neuromuscular control exercises at a state of fatigue should be implemented into training programmes, to reduce the number of biomechanical deficits that are linked to ACL injury.
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