I'm coming to the end of my first season looking after an amateur rugby club and I have to say it's been an interesting 9 months so far! We've had a few blood injuries, two that needed stitches. One of those was a quite spectacular nose injury that required 14 stitches.
Most injuries were less dramatic and were a mix of impact, overuse and over-exersion. Ligaments, tendons and muscles all came in for a fair battering and as the season unfolded the amount of tape on shoulders and ankles seemed to expand exponentially.
I've been trying to read as much as I can about injuries and recovery and rehabilitation. I've been looking for courses too, but to no avail. The only short CPD courses I can find run at the weekend and I'm pitch-side on those days.
One of things that I've been thinking about a little is the impact that smoking might have on recovery and rehabilitation. A number of the players smoke, and I was wondering what effect this was having on their ability to avoid injury and to recover from injury.
There are obviously a lot of studies that have demonstrated the various links between smoking and diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular issues. As yet I haven't found a lot of data about smoking and injury recovery, although I did come across a couple of studies that show that both bone fractures and ligament sprains take significantly longer to heal in smokers than in non-smokers. That's not unexpected given the impact smoking is known to have on general health.
Bone fractures can take up to 25% longer to heal and the risk of non-union occurring is 2.3 times higher for smokers. A study of the effect of smoking on recovery after medial ligament surgery in mice indicated a slower recovery process.
Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you, but if you're involved in sport at any level, then the impact smoking has on your general health is only one factor you should consider alongside the effect it has on your performance and your potential to recover quickly from injury and therefore return to the field of play.
The two reports I found were:
Blowing Smoke: A Meta-Analysis of Smoking on Fracture Healing and Post-Operative Infection
Cigarette smoking impairs ligament healing, researchers find
There's obviously a lot more reading to do, assuming I can find the information, but it is at least a potentially useful place to start when suggesting that maybe a player should give up smoking if they want to avoid longer than necessary times out of the game.