Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the isometric neck strength profiles of rugby union players and to assess the intrarater reliability of isometric neck strength measurement using a handheld dynamometer.
Methods: Twenty-five male, academy-level, rugby union players (forwards [n = 16], backs [n = 9]) were tested on 2 occasions during a training week 2 days apart. Isometric strength of the neck musculature was tested using a handheld dynamometer, for flexion (F), extension (E), left side flexion (LSF), and right side flexion (RSF). The average of 3 trials for each test position was used for statistical analysis. The following isometric neck strength values were obtained: F, E, F:E, LSF, RSF, LSF:RSF, and total isometric strength.
Results: Intrarater reliability intraclass correlation coefficients ranged from 0.80 to 0.92 (intraclass correlation coefficient values: F, 0.85; E, 0.85; F:E, 0.85; LSF, 0.80; RSF, 0.85; LSF:RSF, 0.91; total isometric strength, 0.92), thus indicating excellent reliability in all instances. Forwards recorded significantly greater E scores compared with backs (637.10 ± 75.15 N vs 537.87 ± 82.25 N). Forwards also recoded significantly greater total isometric neck strength scores (2151.96 ± 231.11 N vs 1814.21 ± 211.26 N).
Conclusion: The results of this study provide isometric neck strength values for the forward and back units in the rugby union and indicate that a handheld dynamometer may be a reliable tool for assessing isometric neck strength in this population.
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