2021_Attwood et al_Eight weeks of self-resisted neck strength training improves neck strength in age-grade rugby union players-a pilot randomised controlled trial (1).pdf (274.95 kB)
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Eight Weeks of Self-Resisted Neck Strength Training Improves Neck Strength in Age-Grade Rugby Union Players: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

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posted on 21.10.2021, 13:50 by Matthew J. Attwood, Lewis-Jon W. Hudd, Simon P. Roberts, Gareth Irwin, Keith A. Stokes
Background:
Greater neck strength is associated with fewer head and neck injuries. Neck-strengthening programs are commonly burdensome, requiring specialist equipment or significant time commitment, which are barriers to implementation.

Hypothesis:
Completing a neck-strengthening program will increase isometric neck strength in age-group rugby players.

Study Design:
A pilot randomized controlled exercise intervention study.

Level of Evidence:
Level 2.

Methods:
Twenty-eight U18 (under 18) male regional age-group rugby union players were randomized (intervention n =15/control n = 13). An 8-week exercise program was supervised during preseason at the regional training center. Control players continued their “normal practice,” which did not include neck-specific strengthening exercises. The 3-times weekly trainer-led intervention program involved a series of 15-second self-resisted contractions, where players pushed maximally against their own head, in forward, backward, left, and right directions.

Outcome Measure:
Peak isometric neck strength (force N) into neck flexion, extension, and left and right side flexion was measured using a handheld dynamometer.

Results:
Postintervention between-group mean differences (MDs) in isometric neck strength change were adjusted for baseline strength and favored the intervention for total neck strength (effect size [ES] = 1.2, MD ± 95% CI = 155.9 ± 101.9 N, P = 0.004) and for neck strength into extension (ES = 1.0, MD ± 95% CI = 59.9 ± 45.4 N, P = 0.01), left side flexion (ES = 0.7, MD ± 95% CI = 27.5 ± 26.9 N, P = 0.05), and right side flexion (ES = 1.3, MD ± 95% CI = 50.5 ± 34.4 N, P = 0.006).

Conclusion:
This resource-efficient neck-strengthening program has few barriers to implementation and provides a clear benefit in U18 players’ neck strength. While the present study focused on adolescent rugby players, the program may be appropriate across all sports where head and neck injuries are of concern and resources are limited.

Clinical Relevance:
Greater neck strength is associated with fewer head and neck injuries, including concussion. Performing this neck exercise program independently, or as part of a whole-body program like Activate, an interactive guide for players and coaches, could contribute to lower sports-related head and neck injuries.

History

Published in

Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach

Publisher

Sage

Acceptance Date

12/08/2021

Publication Date

24/09/2021

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Citation

Attwood, M.J., Hudd, L.J.W., Roberts, S.P., Irwin, G. and Stokes, K.A. (2021) 'Eight Weeks of Self-Resisted Neck Strength Training Improves Neck Strength in Age-Grade Rugby Union Players: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial', Sports Health, p.19417381211044736. https://doi.org/10.1177/19417381211044736

Print ISSN

1941-7381

Electronic ISSN

1941-0921

Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

Matthew J. Attwood Lewis-Jon W. Hudd Gareth Irwin

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Sport Research Groups

Copyright Holder

© The Authors

Publisher Rights Statement

Reuse is restricted to non-commercial and no derivative uses

Language

en