Rugby coaches are being urged to concentrate on improving players’ neck strength in a bid to avoid debilitating concussions. A ground-breaking New Zealand study has found players with weaker and uneven neck strength are more vulnerable to severe impacts that may cause concussion. Researchers used bluetooth sensors behind the ears of 23 players to measure acceleration, or g forces, during impacts in five games. The neck strength of each player was also measured using especially designed equipment. Researchers said the weaker the neck the more severe the damaging “whip-lash” type movement.
“We found players with stronger necks had lower acceleration or whip-lash like movement. The stronger you can make the neck the less the head accelerates – it controls the brain’s movement against the skull.” They concluded that coaches at all levels needed to put as much value on neck strengthening exercises as they did fitness and skills.