On work placement in a pop-up clinic

rehab in clinicLaura, Kerrie and Jordan tell us how to run a pop up sports therapy and rehabilitation clinic at the Royal Navy’s field gun competition…

A quick intro to the field gun competition

The origins of the field gun competition lie in the Second Boer War in South Africa. The Royal Navy landed guns from HMS Terrible and Powerful, in support of the British Army who were under siege.  They transported guns over difficult terrain and brought them into action, the sailors manhandling the guns over very difficult terrain. One story tells of sailors carrying a 12-pound gun for over 3.2k after one of the wheels collapsed.

The pop-up clinic is here to help!

pop up clinicThe competition attracts 24 crews annually from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force. Now in our third year of supporting the event, 12 Marjon sports therapists and rehabilitators spend five weeks working alongside side HMNB Devonport who train twice daily from Monday to Thursday. During training sessions we provide the field gunners with treatments including: sports massage, assisted stretching, management of acute injuries and exercise prescription.

field gun teamDuring the competition, held at HMS Collingwood Portsmouth, we set up a pop-up clinic where we worked to maintain the competitors to get them through a very physically demanding week. Having just completed a placement within Marjon’s  own Sport & Health Clinic, this was the perfect opportunity to put our skills into practice during what was a week of back to back overuse injuries.

What did we do?

mobility sessionThe sport requires the teams to work together to build, push, pull, lift, change wheels and manoeuvre a gun. It requires a great deal of skill, strength and speed.

Due to the physically demanding nature of the sport, there were a range of overuse injuries throughout the competition week; although luckily, unlike previous seasons, no fingers were lost this time.

Muscular strains were extremely common, particularly hamstrings and quadriceps, dependent on the field gunners position. The members of the team lifting the box and the wheels (50kg each) were typically suffering from shoulder and lower back pain due to the lifting mechanism.

Each year the pop-up clinic gets bigger and better to meet the demands of the event. This year we got through an impressive 100m of Rocktape and what felt like a lot of deep heat (we use Rock Sauce). We also found through a bit of improvisation that the military belts double up as tools for mobilisations.

Our best bits

field gun placementAt the end of the training week, the teams competed against each other in seven heats, to earn themselves a place in the Grand Final. The main event took place on Saturday 1st June, during which HMS Collingwood open the doors to members of the public who come to spectate. This was a highly competitive and nerve racking race to watch, with HMNB Devonport narrowly missing out on winning the brickfields trophy by 0.64 seconds.

The placement was also a fantastic opportunity to meet other therapists such as Physiotherapists and Exercise Rehab Instructors (ERI), who worked within the MOD. It was particularly good to meet a Marjon postgraduate who now works at HMS Drake as an ERI and to learn more about what his role involves.

Shortly after the competition week, two of our MSc Sports Rehabilitators returned to support the junior field gun competition, which is a similar set up with competing school and OTC teams from all over the UK. It was fantastic to work closely with Royal Hospital School who made the Cup Final.

What’s next?

Now the season has come to an end and the field gun blues are in full swing. We look forward to returning to the Birmingham NIA to support the teams competing at the Military Tattoo this November. Pre-season injury prevention preparation is already underway!

royal navy and marjon team


This post was co-authored by students Laura Woodbridge, Kerrie Mott and Jordan Webber, who are study BSc (Hons) Sports Therapy and MSc Sport Rehabilitation at Marjon.

Thank you to Rocktape UK, Kitworld & Resilience Communications who all contributed to enable the running of the pop-up clinic, providing us with this fantastic work placement opportunity.

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