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Preventing hamstring injury this winter sport season

With the winter sport season well underway, we have seen a spike in hamstring related injuries at our clinics the past few weeks. 

Hamstring strains or tears, are one of the most common sporting injuries, especially in those sports requiring high acceleration running like soccer, rugby, hockey, oztag. The can take anywhere from 6 weeks – 6 months to recover from depending on severity of injury – this can mean a long stint on the bench.

We know one of the biggest risk factors to a hamstring strain is - a previous hamstring strain injury, particularly if the injury was recent, with over 1/3 of all re-occurrences happening during the first 2 weeks of return to sport.

With such a high prevalence of the sporting population having had experienced a previous hamstring strain, how do we prevent the likelihood of doing it again or better still helping prevent one from happening in the first place?

Despite any injury being multi-factorial, evidence has shown as that hamstring length and strength play a major role in whether your hamstring muscle is able to handle the load placed upon it during sport/ exercise.

At a base level, if your hamstring is tight (not so flexible) and weak you have a higher likelihood of straining your hamstring, at least 40% risk. Timmis et al. So stronger, longer hamstrings are the goal to reducing injury and improving performance.

Which exercises are best to achieve this goal:

  • Nordic hamstring exercises: helps to load hamstrings during the lengthening (eccentric) phase of the movement. This exercise has been found to reduce hamstring injuries by 50-65% and recurrences by up to 85% when completed in a structured nordic hamstring program (van Dyk et al.).
    • Check out our video of Clayton performing Nordic hamstring exercises 

      Nordic Hamstring Exercise (3 variations)Video Click Here

    • Sprint training: Generates maximal hamstring activation and improves hamstring length. Also ensures the hamstrings have enough sprinting load to manage game performance, I.e., if you could be performing 10-20, sprints per game, having enough training load to handle the game day’s efforts.

In addition, what exercises should be consider limiting?

    • Long duration/ static hamstring stretching before training/ games- as its found to reduced overall functional performance and eccentric strength (Barbosa et al. 2019). Dynamic hamstring warm-ups are the preferred option– check out our social media pages for some video demonstrations from Clayton

    If you're unsure if your hamstrings are in good enough condition to prevent a hamstring strain this season, or looking to be proactive in preventing a strain, call up and book in to have a review.

    Bowral Clinic: 02 4861 1223

    Moss Vale Clinic: 02 4868 3994



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