Reducing Hamstring Strains in Sprinters
Hamstring strains or pulls are a common injury among acceleration sports including rugby, soccer, and sprinting. Our previous blogs have written about the causes and treatments of these muscle injuries. One of the common causes of injury involves a lengthening contraction (eccentric) of the muscle during these explosive sports movements. If the muscle is unable to handle the forces placed upon it an injury occurs. To reduce this injury risk, researchers and clinicians have focused on improved the strength and tissue capacity of the hamstring through training.
A long term study was reported in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine describing 3 different interventions utilized to reduce the risk of hamstring injury (Sugiura et al. 2017). Authors assessed 3 different prevention methods in a group of top ranked collegiate and national level sprinters over a 24 year period. The first training program utilized over a 4 year period consisted of strengthening on a leg curl machine. During this period 16 strain injuries occurred in a group of 116 sprinters. The staff then included hip strengthening, agility and hurdle work in addition to the leg curl. The authors reported a 56% reduction in hamstring strains over this 9 year period. Finally, the authors included exercises from the first two interventions as well as dynamic stretches and nordic curl training for the hamstring. This group of close to 300 sprinters sustained only 2 strain injuries over a 12 year period, almost a 90% reduction in strain rates.
This study adds to our existing evidence on the importance of of hamstring strengthening for both performance and injury prevention among sprinting athletes