Shoulder injuries in rugby players: mechanisms, examination, and rehabilitation

Phys Ther Sport. 2014 Nov;15(4):218-27. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2014.06.001. Epub 2014 Jun 19.


Background: The sport of rugby is growing in popularity for players at the high school and collegiate levels.

Objective: This article will provided the sports therapist with an introduction to the management of shoulder injuries in rugby players.

Summary: Rugby matches results in frequent impacts and leveraging forces to the shoulder region during the tackling, scrums, rucks and maul components of the game. Rugby players frequently sustain contusion and impact injuries to the shoulder region, including injuries to the sternoclavicular, acromioclavicular (AC), and glenohumeral (GH) joints. Players assessed during practices and matches should be screened for signs of fracture, cervical spine and brachial plexus injuries. A three phase program will be proposed to rehabilitate players with shoulder instabilities using rugby specific stabilization, proprioception, and strengthening exercises. A plan for return to play will be addressed including position-specific activities.

Keywords: Rehabilitation; Rugby; Shoulder injury; Tackling injury.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brachial Plexus / injuries
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Football / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / rehabilitation
  • Physical Examination
  • Shoulder Injuries*
  • Spinal Injuries / diagnosis
  • Spinal Injuries / rehabilitation