T Nation

Neck injury protection

Ok, keep the snickering to a minimum please grin

I play rugby and will be starting as a hooker this season. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the sport, let me explain…

In rugby, after a minor infraction of the laws play is restarted in the scrum. This is when 8 players from one team bind together and push against 8 players from the other team. The two people in the exact center of this are the hookers and they have to ‘hook’ the ball back to their team to win it. The hookers are in the exact center of well over 2000 pounds of pressure, and neck injuries are not uncommon.

Does anyone know of any specific exercises I can do to help me prevent injury? My boyfriend showed me a wrestling thing where you put your head on the floor and roll it to stretch and strengthen the neck, but does anyone know of any others?

I usually hang my head off of the bed and lift up and down for many reps when I have spare time during the day. This works for me since I devote no actual training to the neck in the gym. You can also add resistance by applying pressure with your finger tips.
J

Being a hooker myself, I have always done exercises like Deadlifts, cleans, and squats, plus pull-ups, chins, rows, things of that nature, because Deads and Cleans will definitely help to strengthen your neck, but if you only focus on your neck, you will find yourself in immense pain, which is pretty much unavoidable anyways, but you need to strengthen everything from your feet all the way up. The neck injuries aren’t from the pressure, they are from collapsed scrums, and if your body is stronger, then you will be able to help keep the scrum up, to a degree, just make sure your props don’t try to do anything but push, and that your props punch the opposing props if they try to do stupid things like hook the ball, and trust me your props will be more than willing to punch people, especially girls. Just be careful, and don’t try to fight it too much if your in the middle of collapsing scrums. Also, don’t curl your back, keep it locked in, it may feel bad, but it’s way worse if you curl it. The best overall advise I could give you though, to avoid injury is this, work on your speed and your hands and move to the backs. If that is too scattered a message, let me know what you need clarified. Hooker Love

Michelle, try doing a wreslter’s bridge. The goal is to touch your nose to the floor. So assume a standard bridge position and try to bring your head/face to the floor. Use your hands for support. You can rock back and forth for 10-20 repetitions until you can get to the point where you can rest on your forehead and nose. Then you can make it more difficult by not using hand support (keep your arms crossed at the chest). Matt Furey highly recommends this exercise for back and neck strength. Check out his site combatwrestling.com for more info. Good luck.

Well, Mitchell, I actually am a back…but the travel team I am on has some (literally) world class backs on it, and I’m not one of those. So, I’ve been moved to hooker cause I’m short and pretty strong. The truth of the matter is I’m scared of the position, but I just have to be prepared and do my best…

Luckily I’m in really good hands, my props will be excellent…I am by far the least experienced on the team. I just don’t want to let them down…we’re heading to the Dendermonde 10’s tournament in June.

I’ll add some of the exercises you mention when I change up my lifitng next week. Thanks!

There is no reason to be scared. If you go into the middle of a scrum and aren’t sure of yourself, chances are you’ll just stand there, and the ball will just roll right through the tunnel and the other team will generally be awarded the “re-scrum”. Since you’re on a high level team, I would imagine that you can put your trust in the rest of the pack, and focus on the task at hand, and use it as a learning experience. No worries though, I’ve been hooking 5 years now and I haven’t had any problems (knocking on wood). Just keep lifting and make sure you are the leader of the scrum, if someone is doing something that you don’t feel comfortable with, tell them, don’t let your inexperience stand in the way. I’m sure the whole scrum idea probably still sounds and feels uncomfortable to you, but your upper body should feel very tight between your props and your hips should be more or less free to move and hook the ball, but if you ever feel restricted in there speak up, it probably isn’t right. Try to ignore the other team, because most of the pressure of the scrum will generally be absorbed by the props. Ask questions and speak your mind and you’ll be fine. Hooker is the most repected position on the field, be proud of it. Much Hooker Love

Ive got a bumper sticker on my jeep that says- Support your local hooker- play rugby.

Anyways, hooker is a tough position. Collapsed scrums are a bitch. Thats why I play on the flank. hahaha