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Hamstring Injuries

Hamstring injuries are one of the most common injuries and one of the biggest reasons for competition time lost during a sporting season. A study by Ekstrand et al. 2011 reported that professional soccer clubs could expect around a whopping 7 hamstring injuries per season. (1) So, what puts certain individuals at higher risks of hamstring injuries and what can be modified to decrease the likelihood of them occurring?


Modifiable Risk Factors:


Strength: A hamstring to quadriceps strength ratio of less than 60% has been shown to increase injury rates by up to 17 times. (2) Hamstring strength, power and left to right imbalances can be improved through appropriate loading and resistance training. Specific strength exercises to target the hamstrings such as nordic curls have been shown to halve hamstring injury rates. (5)


Muscular Adaptations: An increase in muscle fascicle length has been shown to reduce the rates of hamstring injuries. (4) This anatomical change can be achieved through appropriate exercises that include eccentric or lengthening muscle contractions of the hamstring group including hamstring bridge sliders.


High Speed and Sprint Volume: Sprint training is able to provide a hamstring injury preventative effect while also improving sprint performance. (7) Sport specific conditioning, speed work and periodised programming can be used to design a safe and effective program. It is essential to monitor training loads and high speed meters to ensure an individual finds the sweet spot between over and under doing it, as these can pose their own risks of injury.


Running Mechanics and Posture: Through gait analysis and the study of sprinting technique it has been shown that favourable movement patterns reduce the risk of hamstring injuries occurring (6). This can be assessed through video analysis and run screening, allowing an individual to work on personalised running technique drills and corrective exercises specific to their needs.


Readiness to Perform: An inadequate warm up or high levels of fatigue are two elements that can increase one’s risk of a hamstring injury. (4) Appropriate sport specific conditioning prior to competition combined with correct game day preparation is essential in reducing these risk factors.


What if I have already had a hamstring injury?

Hamstring strength reductions are evident for up to three seasons following hamstring injury in semi-professional AFL players compared to non-injured players. (3) It has been shown that having had one hamstring injury increases the risk of having a reoccurring one in future. (8) It is therefore imperative that we correctly treat and rehabilitate hamstring injuries by addressing each of the risk factors above. By doing so we can significantly decrease the likelihood of a repeated injury and keep you competing.




References:

Ekstrand et al. 2011 (1)

Yeung et al. 2009 (2)

Charlton 2018 (3)

Wing et al. 2020 (4)

Van Dyke 2019 (5)

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