Posts tagged hamstring strain
Previous History of Hamstring Injury Associated With Reduced Sprint Performance

Hamstring injuries are one of the most common injuries in both individual and team sports. In sports such as soccer and football these injuries involve a traumatic pull of the muscle while sprinting or accelerating. After the initial healing phase athletes must rehabilitate the injury with Physical Therapy exercises to regain optimal muscle function and reduce their risk for future injury. Hamstring injuries often become recurrent if strength is not normalized along the hip, knee, and ankle muscles along the back of the leg. A new article highlights how these injuries also limit performance in sprinting trials.


Roksund and colleagues studied professional soccer players and collected data on previous hamstring injuries, as well as, each athlete’s strength, flexibility, aerobic capacity, and sprint performance (Front Physiol. 2017). Of the 75 athletes included in the study, 16% sustained a hamstring strain over the previous 2 years. The previously injured athletes demonstrated a significant loss of velocity during a 40 meter sprint test, as well as, a drop in performance over repeated sprints compared to their healthy peers. Interestingly, measures of flexibility, strength, aerobic capacity, and maximum power was not significantly different between groups. Injured athletes are encouraged to work with their local Physical Therapist to accelerate their recovery from muscle strains and eventual return to sport.

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Nordic Hamstring Exercise Shown to More Evenly Recruit Hamstring Muscles
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Hamstring injuries are a common sports medicine injury treated in our Boulder Physical Therapy practice.  These injuries can be placed in two categories: acute trauma often related to sprinting and cutting movements or repetitive stress and overload to the hamstring often found in athletes with weak gluteus muscles.  In our previous blog posts, we have described the importance of gradual loading of the injured hamstring to promote an optimal healing (remodeling) response, as well as, utilizing a hamstring strengthening program to reduce the risk of future hamstring injury.  A recent article sheds light on common exercises used to strengthen the hamstring and how these different exercises target the 3 muscles which make up the hamstring.

Messer and colleagues studied the hamstrings of active women without a history of lower limb injury (JOSPT. 2018).  All participants underwent a MRI both before and after performing eccentric (lengthening) contractions of the hamstrings on both of the exercises pictured above.  Muscle activation levels were calculated based on changes between the two MRI images.  The authors reported both exercises targeted the inner (medial) hamstring muscle, but the commonly utilized nordic hamstring exercise more evenly recruited all 3 hamstring muscles.    

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The Impact of Hamstring Flexibility on Hamstring Injuries

In our prior posts on injury prevention in sports we have highlighted the importance of training volume management, balance training, and strength training.  Of all the training options, strength training is the most important due to its' ability to cut an athlete's risk of injury in half.  Despite the evidence many healthy athletes focus a large percentage of time on static stretching either before or after practice.  With time being a finite question we must ask if stretching reduces injury risk.

A large prospective study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine was conducted on the impact of hamstring flexibility on hamstring injury incidence in 450 high level amateur soccer players (Huisstede et al. 2016).  The athletes' hamstring flexibility was assessed on the sit and reach test prior to the start of the season.  The athletes were then followed for 1 year to determine the incidence of hamstring strains.  5% of the athletes sustained a hamstring injury during the season, but the authors noted no significant relationship between flexibility and risk of injury.  

Athletes are encouraged to focus their sports preparation on proven injury reduction programs involving strength training, eccentric hamstring loading, and proprioception training.