Are strong shoulders useful for rugby
Are strong shoulders useful for rugby

Are strong shoulders useful for rugby


Yes, strong shoulders are useful for rugby as they help in tackles, scrums, and other physical aspects of the game. Strong shoulders can improve a player’s ability to make and withstand hits, maintain possession of the ball, and increase their overall power and endurance on the field.

What muscles are involved in shoulder strength

The muscles involved in shoulder strength include:

  1. Deltoids: Three heads of the deltoid muscle make up the rounded shape of the shoulder.
  2. Rotator cuff muscles: Four small muscles that help with shoulder stability and rotation.
  3. Trapezius: A large muscle that extends from the neck to the upper back and helps in shoulder blade stability and movement.
  1. Latissimus Dorsi: A broad, flat muscle that covers the lower part of the back and is involved in arm movement and shoulder stability.
  2. Biceps: The muscle at the front of the upper arm that helps with arm flexion and rotation.
  3. Triceps: The muscle at the back of the upper arm that helps with arm extension.

It’s important to strengthen all of these muscles for overall shoulder health and strength in rugby.

The deltoids

The deltoids are a muscle group located in the shoulder region. They are responsible for shoulder movement and stability and have three distinct heads: the anterior (front), medial (middle), and posterior (rear) deltoids. The deltoids attach to the collarbone, the shoulder blade, and the upper arm bone, and work together to perform movements such as shoulder elevation, abduction, and rotation. Strengthening the deltoids can help improve the power and endurance of the shoulder, which is important for activities such as tackling and scrummaging in rugby.

The rotator cuff muscles

The rotator cuff is a group of four small muscles and their tendons in the shoulder. These muscles originate from the shoulder blade and attach to the upper arm bone (humerus). The rotator cuff muscles are responsible for stabilising the shoulder joint and allowing the arm to rotate and move in various directions. The four muscles are:

  1. Supraspinatus: located above the scapula (shoulder blade)
  2. Infraspinatus: located below the scapula
  3. Teres minor: located on the lateral (outer) aspect of the scapula
  4. Subscapularis: located under the scapula

The rotator cuff muscles are important for shoulder health and function and are heavily involved in activities such as throwing and lifting, which are common in rugby. Injuries to the rotator cuff, such as strains or tears, can be debilitating and impact a player’s performance. Thus, it’s important to keep the rotator cuff muscles strong and healthy to maintain shoulder function in rugby and other physical activities.


The trapezius muscles

The trapezius muscle is a large, triangular muscle that extends from the base of the skull to the mid-back and the shoulder blade. The trapezius muscle has three parts: the upper, middle, and lower trapezius.

  1. The upper trapezius helps elevate the shoulder and extend the neck.
  2. The middle trapezius helps retract the shoulder blade (scapula)
  3. The lower trapezius helps depress the shoulder blade

The trapezius muscle plays a key role in shoulder blade stability and movement, as well as neck and upper back stability. In rugby, the trapezius muscles are used in many movements such as tackling, scrummaging, and carrying the ball. Strengthening the trapezius muscle can help improve posture, reduce the risk of injury, and increase power and endurance in rugby and other physical activities.

Are shoulder injuries common in Rugby?

Yes, shoulder injuries are common in rugby due to the physical nature of the sport. The repeated and intense contact in tackles, scrums, and other collisions can put a lot of stress on the shoulder joint and surrounding muscles, leading to injuries such as rotator cuff strains or tears, dislocated shoulders, and labral tears. In addition, the overhead actions involved in throwing and lifting can also contribute to shoulder injury. 

To minimise the risk of shoulder injury in rugby, it’s important for players to engage in a well-rounded strength and conditioning program that focuses on improving overall shoulder strength and stability. This can help reduce the risk of injury and improve a player’s overall performance on the field.

What exercises can I do to build up shoulder strength

Here are some exercises you can do to build up shoulder strength:

  1. Overhead press: standing or seated, use a barbell, dumbbells, or a kettlebell to press weight overhead.
  2. Lateral raises: standing or seated, use dumbbells to raise the arms out to the sides, keeping the elbows slightly bent.
  3. Front raises: standing or seated, use dumbbells to raise the arms forward, keeping the elbows slightly bent.
  4. Reverse fly: standing or seated, use dumbbells to raise the arms out to the sides, keeping the elbows slightly bent and the palms facing each other.
  5. Upright row: standing, use a barbell or dumbbells to raise the weight up towards the chin, keeping the elbows higher than the hands.
  6. Pull-ups and chin-ups: use a pull-up bar to perform pull-ups or chin-ups, which work the shoulder blades and upper back muscles.
  7. Rotator cuff exercises: use a resistance band or light weight to perform exercises such as internal and external rotation, which target the rotator cuff muscles.

It’s important to perform these exercises with proper form and to start with lighter weights, gradually increasing the weight as your strength improves. It’s also a good idea to incorporate other exercises that target the entire upper body, such as push-ups and bench presses, for balanced strength and injury prevention.


Minimising shoulder injuries

Here are some steps you can take to minimise shoulder injuries:

  1. Warm-up and cool down: Before and after physical activity, it’s important to warm-up with dynamic stretching and light cardio to increase blood flow to the shoulder joint and muscles. After activity, perform a cool-down that includes static stretching and foam rolling to reduce muscle tightness and improve recovery.
  2. Strengthen the rotator cuff and surrounding muscles: Incorporate exercises that target the rotator cuff and other shoulder muscles, such as those listed in my previous answer, into your strength training routine. This will help build stability and reduce the risk of injury.
  3. Improve posture: Poor posture can put added strain on the shoulder joint and surrounding muscles. Focus on maintaining good posture throughout the day and when performing physical activity.
  4. Gradually increase intensity and duration: Avoid sudden increases in activity level or intensity, as this can increase the risk of injury. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of physical activity to allow the body to adapt.
  5. Listen to your body: If you experience pain or discomfort in the shoulder, take a break and rest. Ignoring pain can lead to further injury and prolong recovery.
  6. Wear proper equipment: In contact sports such as rugby, wearing proper protective gear, such as shoulder pads, can help reduce the risk of injury.
  7. Cross-training: Incorporate other physical activities into your routine to reduce the stress on the shoulder from repetitive motions and improve overall fitness.

By following these steps, you can help minimise the risk of shoulder injury and maintain optimal shoulder health and function. If you have any concerns about shoulder pain or injury, it’s important to consult with a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.