Most contact sports have an undeserved reputation for being dangerous. Even though injuries do occur and are sometimes severe, especially in the professional game, the rate of injury per hour of training and playing is relatively low. At a recreational level, players can agree to avoid unnecessary and dangerous body contact: choosing non-contact netball instead of basketball, agreeing to keep hockey sticks below the waist, using proper protection and so on, can keep the injury rate low.
It can be difficult safely to stage the return to playing: being out of rugby for six months and then playing a full 80-minute game is very risky. Going back must be stepped: running in a straight line, then faster running, side-stepping, turning, improving core stability and posture, light contact and passing, full contact, playing the last 20 minutes in a reserves' game and so on. Such staging requires good teamwork but is more difficult for recreational players who have no access to coaches or team medics.
Many of the injuries we see in contact sports are caused by insufficient rehabilitation from previous injuries. The aim must first be to restore balanced limb performance and then an appropriate and sport-specific level of fitness. One way to achieve this is to compile a functional score, which includes a subjective score, an objective examination and the results of simple functional tests. The problem is that each sport and each level of performance requires its own score.
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