Apologies for the lengthy delay in blogging action. I have been celebrating my recent graduation and haven’t found time to get my blogging hat on (may have something to do with excessive alcohol consumption). I hope you all enjoyed the guest blog last week! Follow Mubz on twitter for more S2S action! (@mubzy4 & @MubzKamaluddin)
This blog will cover the causes of those annoying, niggling hamstring injuries and provide you with a guide to prevent such injuries from occuring!
Within the world of football, hamstring strains are the most frequently occurring injuries. Hamstring strains account for approximately 12% of all injuries and on average result in 18 days out of action. Studies show that 91% of hamstring strains are non-contact, with 57% occurring in the late swing phase. The late swing phase is the point at which muscle activity is the highest and the hamstrings are working eccentrically, to decelerate the forward movement of the quadriceps.
Risk factors for hamstring strains:
- Inadequate warm-up & fatigue (extrinsic factors)
- Agonist-Antagonist strength imbalances (i.e. quadriceps-hamstrings ratio)
- Bilateral strength imbalances (i.e. differences between opposing legs)
- Lack of flexibility
- Low back pain
- Sacroilliac joint dysfunction
In order to reduce your chances of suffering a hamstring strain, it’s important to address the risk factors above. A number of studies have looked to reduce the occurrence of hamstring strains by balancing the quadricep:hamstring ratio. One such study, separated 462 soccer players into 4 different groups, after assessing strength imbalances (47% were classified as imbalanced). The 4 groups were: 1) Balanced prior to intervention 2) Imbalanced prior to intervention (no compensation training) 3) Imbalanced prior to intervention (compensation training until balance achieved) 4) Imbalanced prior to intervention (compensation training, but balance achieved unknown). The results showed that injury frequency was 4 fold higher for participants in the imbalanced group (group 2) compared with participants from the balanced group (group 1). Furthermore, compensation training reduced injury frequency to the same rate as participants from the balanced group. The group who received compensation training, but balance unknown (group 4) didn’t attain as strong a reduction in injury occurrence. This study shows that compensation training to achieve a more balanced Q:H ratio is successful in reducing injury frequency, and that it’s vital for progress to be monitored.
Many studies have demonstrated a reduction in hamstring strains following hamstring eccentric strength training. As mention earlier, hamstring strains most frequently occur during the late swing phase, when the hamstrings are working eccentrically to decelerate the forward acceelration of the quadriceps. Therefore, increasing the hamstrings eccentric strength is likely to reduce the risk for injury. Nordic hamstring curls are a great way to increase eccentric strength. Have a search on ‘youtube’ for some great demonstrations!
In order to reduce your chances of suffering a hamstring strain Science2Sport recommends taking a holistic approach that targets the risk factors. You should include a sufficient warm up, core stability work, flexibility exercises, proprioception exercises, agility exercises and neuromuscular exercises (i.e. increase hamstring eccentric strength, balanced Q:H ratio, balanced opposing legs).
Thanks for reading! Follow on twitter (@SciencetoSport or click the icon at the top) for insights, debates, questions and answers on the world of science and sport!