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Lifestyle

Basic hygiene

Basic hygiene is essential for maintaining a healthy active lifestyle, particularly when operating in the closed environment of a team. A good rule of thumb is to:

  • keep yourself clean, e.g. wash your hands at least five times a day
  • keep your kit clean, e.g. clothing, water bottles and gum shields
  • if you sustain a cut, clean it and cover it.


Fluid intake


Water is essential to normal body function. During exercise, the major water loss from the body is through sweat. To avoid a significant decrease in performance, this water must be replaced, both during matches and training. Indeed, during Rugby, keeping hydrated is more important than supplying fuel to the muscles.

Children should not routinely use sports drinks as their high sugar content may cause dental problems. Milk or milk shakes are a very good recovery drink as they provide fluid, protein and carbohydrate (in the case of milk shakes).

An easy way to check your hydration level is to observe the colour of your urine. The chart below will help. You should aim for your urine to be pale in colour which equates to 1 to 3 in the chart. If your urine colour matches 4 to 8, then you are dehydrated and must follow a rehydration protocol.

Nutrition

Nutrition, how it works and what foods you should be eating during your training and games are very important to your sport and performance. It is important to find the right balance between fats, carbohydrates and protein to ensure your body has enough fuel to sustain not only a single game of Rugby but also the training necessary to make it to that point. The body can be put through rigorous amounts of training but only if you supply it with the food it needs to stay strong and energised.

It is becoming apparent that many people eat too much carbohydrate including fructose from fruit. Carbohydrate intake should be mainly slow release (low GI) rather than refined carbohydrates (high GI). By contrast, most people’s diets contain too little protein (animal, especially fish and white meat, and plant), and vegetables. Most players should not need any protein supplementation. Vegetables are preferred to fruit as the main source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. In most people, eating a fresh balanced diet ingests sufficient vitamins and minerals so supplements should not be required.

An example of a nutritional plan can be downloaded from:

rugbyready.worldrugby.org/en/downloads


Alcohol

Alcohol consumption is harmful as it affects training and performance in several ways, such as:

  • reducing muscle force production
  • decreasing muscle strength and power capabilities
  • altering the transport, activation, utilisation and storage of most nutrients
  • causing dehydration which may persist long after alcohol consumption - dehydration impairs performance
  • altering protein and carbohydrate metabolism, increasing metabolic rate and oxygen consumption
  • impairing recovery from injury and micro-tissue damage associated with training
  • impairing the functioning of the central nervous system, co-ordination and precision.

Dietary supplements - a case study


Adam Dean, a 17 year old Rugby player, was achieving the highest honours at his age group in Rugby, receiving international caps for England at under 18 level. Following the pressures of being told he needed to be “bigger, faster and stronger”, Adam began the use of supplements to complement his training and diet.

Although aware of having to adhere to the rules of the Prohibited List, the education Adam had received had not made him fully aware of the risk of potential contamination of supplements and he decided to make his decision based on his own research.

Adam chose a supplement that did not have any prohibited substances on the product label, a product that also made claims of being “suitable for drug tested athletes”. Assuming that the information provided by the manufacturer was accurate and substantiated, Adam began to take the supplements as part of his training regime.

Adam tested positive for
19-Norandrosterone (a prohibited anabolic agent) and the only explanation Adam could comprehend was that the positive test was attributable to the supplements that he was taking. Adam was banned for two years from Rugby.