In the past 10 years there have been 3425 touch-related injuries throughout the Manawatū-Whanganui region, and experts are advising players of all ages to complete a dynamic warmup to perform at their peak and stay injury-free.
Across New Zealand there have been a total of 139,756 active claims for touch rugby related injuries in the 10 years.
In the 2019/20 season 150,268 people played touch across New Zealand, with around 5064 people taking part in the eight modules across Manawatū/Whanganui.
In 2019, ACC had 10,594 new claims from touch related injuries and spent $14.2m to help people recover.
ACC Head of Injury Prevention, Isaac Carlson, says staying injury-free is an integral part of performance and enjoying the game.
Often the most successful teams are the ones with the fewest injuries.
"Studies show that doing the TouchFit360 warm-up twice a week will have 37 per cent fewer training injuries and 50 per cent less serious injuries during the season," he says.
Over the past 10 years soft tissue injuries (69 per cent) were the most common in touch.
"Touch is a dynamic game where ankle and knee injuries are common, particularly early in the season," explains Carlson.
"You have to look after your body and warm up properly, particularly as you get older."
"If you follow the dynamic warm-up and take time to rest and recover, you'll be fitter, faster, and stronger, and this will reduce your risk of being side-lined with injury."
ACC will invest $687k for the next three years into the TouchFit360 injury prevention programme.
TouchFit360 works on conditioning for in-game movements such as contact, jumping, landing, and changing direction.
It prepares touch players' bodies for training and matches and enhances performance and helps decrease the risk of injury.
Between 2015 and 2019, there was an 18 per cent reduction of annual active costs ($13m down to $11m), and 20 per cent reduction in claim volume (12k down to 9.5k).
Carlson says touch is a unique sport that includes players of all ages and backgrounds.
"Touch is a sport that can engage with participants across their lifetime," says Carlson.
"We are pleased to continue our investment into Touch NZ as we look to prevent injuries across the country.
"The game has a unique ability to positively influence and have a direct impact in the areas of both social and community development."
The focus of TouchFit360 is not just on the field.
The programme recognises that sport is a powerful enabler of hauora (physical, mental, social and spiritual health) and wellbeing, and that touch plays an important role in the community.
The TouchFit360 programme aims to reduce the incidence and severity of injury and strengthen the delivery and extend investment into the CommUNITY Connect projects.
Touch NZ chief executive Joe Sprangers says, for many people touch is their summer game.
"We were pleased to go past 150,000 players last season and we're hoping to build on that this season.
"This investment from ACC enables us to continue to build on injury prevention with TouchFit360," he says.
"We've also adopted social responsibility as a core value and driver for our organisation, and we're looking forward to making a difference with this programme."
The TouchFit360 programme covers: player profiling, physical conditioning, psychology, skill and technique, food and fluid, player wear, athlete environment, injuries and target groups.
For more information on TouchFit360 visit: touchcoachconnect.co.nz/touchfit-360