Did you know that hamstring strains are the most common injuries reported in professional soccer and are responsible for approximately 1/3 of track and field injuries in sprinters? Not only that, but hamstring strains frequently occur in sports that require sprinting, kicking, acceleration, and changing of directions in sport (Dewitt et al, 2014).
So, what can we do to help reduce the risk of hamstring strains?
Before talking about the factors that contribute to hamstring strains, let’s discuss the role of the hamstrings.
The Hamstring has multiple functions:
- Controls the hip and knee joint
- Reduces stress on the ACL
- Extension of the hip
- Deceleration of the knee during kicking and sprinting
- Deceleration of the leg swing during kicking and sprinting
- Proprioception: Gives sensory information to the brain regarding the position of the knee in space
Risk Factors for Hamstring Strains (Schmitt et al, 2012)
- Prior hamstring injury (most consistent risk factor)
- Decreased flexibility
- Strength deficits and Muscle fatigue
- Poor core stability
- Lack of warm up
- Poor lumbar posture
Important note: a previous hamstring strain increases the risk of recurrence by two to six times. (Schmitt et al., 2012)
In order to prevent/minimize re-occurrence of hamstring strains a multi-faceted approach is required.
“Recurrence rates following hamstring injuries are high with the greatest incidence for re‐injury occurring within the first two weeks after return to sport” (Dewitt et al, 2014)
More often that not, an athlete “feels better” and assumes that it’s fine to return to sport, but the big question is, even though it “feels better”, can it perform better under stress.
Objective measurements need to be taken to assess readiness for return to sport.
The ASLR test assesses flexibility of the hamstrings and calf muscles and the ability to maintain a stable torso.
A pass on this test addresses one of the risk factors that contribute to hamstring strains.
One of the most important steps to prevention and treatment is to gather the necessary information and baseline measures to analyse the risk of injury. This is followed by building a specialized training program that targets the individual’s needs and incorporating a variety of tools to build a more resilient body.
If you have any questions or inquiries about hamstring injuries or are looking to ensure a healthy sport life, drop a comment below or call us directly for further information on how to optimize your health and performance.
Author: Zachary Hum MScPT BAKin
DeWitt, J., & Vidale, T. (2014). RECURRENT HAMSTRING INJURY: CONSIDERATION FOLLOWING OPERATIVE AND NON‐OPERATIVE MANAGEMENT. Int J Sports Phys Ther, 9(6), 798–812. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4223289/
Schmitt, B., Tim, T., & McHugh, M. (2012). HAMSTRING INJURY REHABILITATION AND PREVENTION OF REINJURY USING LENGTHENED STATE ECCENTRIC TRAINING: A NEW CONCEPT. Int J Sports Phys Ther, 7(3), 333–341. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3362981/#B10