Symmetry Blog

Injury of the week - Hamstring Injury

Symmetry Physio - Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A quiet week on the injury front.

Injury of the week

It was a quiet week with regards to injuries in round 8. However, looking through the AFL injury list ar present almost every team has a player out with a hamstring injury and in most cases, the loss is two or three players. Given the prevalence of hamstring injuries in Australian sport, we thought this might be an interesting topic for our injury of the week!

Hamstring Strains

As a sport, AFL has one of the highest rates of hamstring injuries going around. The hamstring muscle group is made up of three muscles sitting on the back of the thigh and has an important role when sprinting to decelerate an extending knee. In AFL, the hamstring not only has to deal with a significant degree of fatigue due to the volume of running but it also uniquely required to cope with maximal forces as a player has to sprint or kick. Even more so, when taking a low ball while on the run, the muscle of being asked to stretch as you bend forward while still trying to contract in the action of running and there is a high risk that the stress will be too much for a tired muscle and the result is a tear.

Given the cost that these have on the game, considerable effort has gone into the understanding of hamstring injuries. As a result, some of the world's leading research on hamstring injuries has been produced in Australia looking at ways to reduce injury risk, enhance the rehabilitation, and predict the recovery time if an injury occurs. We now can accurately predict how long it will take for a player to get back to sport based on a number of factors; including the site of a tear, previous injury, ability to walk pain-free the next day, use of anti-inflammatory drugs and clinical exam. On average 28 days to play again is normal but this can be considerably longer for a nasty tear.

In terms of the recovery, the rehabilitation is structured around a comprehensive strengthening program and structured running program designed to take you from the end of the acute phase to playing again. It is surprising how quickly you can start this as the hamstring doesn't actually have to work too hard jogging or even running at half pace. Unfortunately, this often gives unguided athletes a false sense of security and they return to sprinting too early and will re-injure themselves. Insufficient rehab is a leading contributor to re-injury. With a good Physio, expect to receive specific and tailored exercises and guidance through a running program to enhance muscle recovery and ensure minimal risk of further programs.

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