Exeter Chiefs: Biomechanical analysis for management of injury in rugby union players

Project lead: Dr Sharon Dixon

As an elite sports team, Exeter Chiefs Rugby Union Club requires all players to be performing at the top level throughout the season. Management of injury risk, treatment and rehabilitation is critical to maintain this optimal performance.

We have collected biomechanical measures, including movement, loading and strength data, for all players during pre-season training for five consecutive playing seasons (see image 1). These data, collected when players are uninjured, provide a baseline for each individual. This information is being used to support rehabilitation if a player experiences injury. In addition, monitoring of all injuries is allowing the identification of biomechanical measures associated with an increased risk of sustaining specific injuries. These results will be used to identify those at heightened risk of developing these injuries so that interventions, such as strength and conditions programmes, can be tailored more appropriately for each player.

Our partnership with Exeter Chiefs: research and application

Exeter Chiefs have demonstrated their commitment to this collaboration through the support of PhD projects, partnership funding through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (Innovate UK), and the development of a dedicated sports science laboratory at their stadium (see image 2).

This support of research focused on the identification of risk factors for injury and application of results to injury management, together with the integration of sports science with the day-to-day activity of the club, is a model that can be applied in other elite sports settings.

Related publications

  1. Carden, P., Bru, B., Jones, A. & Dixon, S. (2017). Influence of rugby surface type and boot stud length on lower limb biomechanical variables associated with Achilles tendinopathy during Rugby Union specific movements. Footwear Science. DOI: 10.1080/19424280.2017.1314379