Hamstring injuries are a common injury in sport especially in Australian Rules football. Hamstrings contributed 26% of total injury load at Noosa Tigers AFL club this season which is a similar number to the AFL in Season 2018. Lots of people want to know: “can I prevent injuring my hamstring?” or “how should I rehab my hamstring injury” and “how do I minimise the risk of re-injury?” This interest has lead to lots of recent research into the topic
A summary of the current research is listed below:
- Hamstring injury risk is reducible in people who have never had one
- Multiple factors should be addressed in rehab including:
- Workload management (consistency and gradual increase in how much the hamstrings do). Spikes or troughs in workload are strongly associated with increasing injury risks
- Maximising hamstring strength – especially high load, eccentric exercises
- High speed running
- Optimising recovery
- Stretching may reduce risk however strength should be the focus in the rehabilitation program
- Limited evidence is shown if passive approaches such as massage, ultrasound, foam rolling, and other electrophysical agents help in reducing risk of hamstring injuries.
Accurate diagnosis is crucial. Three different muscles make up the hamstring and finding which one is affected will dictate your rehab plan. A Sports Physiotherapist can work with you to identify where the tear is with certain tests and palpation. Sometimes when damage to a central tendon is suspected, an MRI may be worthwhile. Ultrasound investigation has limited reliability as it is strongly associated with the experience of the sonographer.
After an accurate diagnosis of which muscle is affected, a structured rehab program is imperative to help the athlete return to sport safely and quickly. If you are already back at sport but have injured your hamstring in the past, a re-injury prevention program is crucial as you have a higher risk of hamstring injuries. Alchemy’s physiotherapists are well versed in the current best practise in preventing hamstring injuries as well as how best to get you on the park as soon as possible.