8 Key Risk Factors for Hamstring Injury
Non modifiable: Unable to change
1. Previous Hamstring injury
- Significant risk factor
- Greater risk of recurrence with greater injury severity
- 2.5 times greater risk if >25 years old
3. Previous injuries
- Especially knee injuries such as an ACL reconstruction
Modifiable: Able to change
4. Muscle weakness
- Persistent hamstring strength deficits are common post injury and increase risk of recurrence
5. Fatigue and Overload
- Neural (lower back)
7. Poor movement patterns e..g overstride
8. Strength imbalances
- E.g. Very strong quadriceps, or, weakness through the gluteals/core
Despite all our advances in modern sports medicine and evidence pertaining to hamstring strains and risk factors, injury and recurrence rates are still high in all levels of competition. Hamstring strains are most common in sports that involve sprinting, acceleration, deceleration, rapid changes of direction and jumping.
Looking at data from the 2014 AFL injury report, each club sustains approximately 5 to 6 new hamstring injuries per year, by far the most common and prevalent injury in the AFL. Recurrence rates (repeat injuries within the same year) for hamstring strains were 16% (down from 24% in 2013). This highlights the challenge the everyday athlete faces when managing and treating hamstring injuries and that even despite the best medical care, hamstring injuries still occur and unfortunately, often re-occur.
Knowledge and the detection of risk factors, regardless of your level of competition can significantly assist in preventing and managing hamstring injuries. Importantly, many of these risk factors can be modified with appropriate exercise and rehabilitation.
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