The effects of a rugby playing season on cervical range of motion.

Peter McCarthy, Sally D Lark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract Rugby players have a reduced active cervical range of motion (ACROM) mid-season compared with age-matched controls. This is most evident in rugby forwards, who have ACROM similar to patients with acute whiplash. This study aims to show if the change in ACROM over an entire rugby season (pre-, mid-, and end of season) shows a pattern of decline. A cross-sectional study of 22 rugby players (11 backs aged 24.9 +/- 1.3 years; 11 forwards aged 24.5 +/- 1.1 years) from elite English Premiership clubs had their cervical range of motion measured for flexion, extension, left and right side flexion, plus left and right rotation with a cervical range of motion device. The percentage change between start to mid-season, mid- to end of season, and start to end of season were calculated. Group means were compared for absolute ACROM (degrees) and percentage change over the season. The percentage change indicated a decrease in ACROM over the rugby playing season, with most of the decrement occurring in the second half of the season. Most of the relative change was observed in right lateral flexion, while rotation did not change significantly. In conclusion, ACROM declines throughout the playing season, which requires attention in terms of training and rehabilitation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649 - 655
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2010


  • rugby
  • range of motion
  • cervical spine
  • season


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