Cervical isometric strength and range of motion of elite rugby union players: a cohort study

David F. Hamilton*, Don Gatherer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Head and neck injury is relatively common in Rugby Union. Despite this, strength and range-of-motion characteristics of the cervical spine are poorly characterised. The aim of this study was to provide data on the strength and range-of-motion of the cervical spine of professional rugby players to guide clinical rehabilitation.

Methods: A cohort study was performed evaluating 27 players from a single UK professional rugby club. Cervical isometric strength and range-of-motion were assessed in 3 planes of reference. Anthropometric data was collected and multivariate regression modelling performed with a view to predicting cervical isometric strength.

Results: Largest forces were generated in extension, with broadly equal isometric side flexion forces at around 90% of extension values. The forwards generated significantly more force than the backline in all parameters bar flexion. The forwards had substantially reduced cervical range-of-motion and larger body mass, with differences observed in height, weight, neck circumference and chest circumference (p < 0.002). Neck circumference was the sole predictor of isometric extension (adjusted R2 = 30.34).

Conclusion: Rehabilitative training programs aim to restore individuals to pre-injury status. This work provides reference ranges for the strength and range of motion of the cervical spine of current elite level rugby players.

Original languageEnglish
Article number32
JournalBMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2014


  • Rugby, Cervical spine, Strength, Range of motion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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