January 19, 2017

While they don’t get the attention that more high-profile conditions do, hamstring injuries are chronic problems for athletes regardless of the sport they play. And the lengthy recovery time often associated with them can frustrate coaches and athletes. Now, researchers are hoping that a new hamstring injury prevention program can lessen their impact.

A study presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's (AOSSM) annual meeting in July outlined a program that showed promise in not only reducing the frequency of the injury in athletes but shortening the amount of time missed by those who do suffer it.

Lead researcher Holly Silvers-Granelli, MPT, PhD Candidate at the University of Delaware, and others selected 213 athletes from one professional baseball organization—40 players from the major league team and 173 players from five different minor league clubs—to participate in the study. After each athlete completed a questionnaire that detailed his hamstring injury history, the teams’ medical staffs—including physicians, athletic trainers, and strength and conditioning coaches—were given parameters of the program, along with instructions on how to implement it. Exercises for the athletes included both concentric and eccentric hamstring exercises and lumbo-pelvic stability movements.

Researchers monitored the rates of program compliance for the players in both groups. They also tracked the rate of hamstring injuries and the time lost to those injuries. At the end of the season, the data was analyzed and compared to an age- and skill-matched control group from Major League Baseball.

The rate of hamstring injury was significantly lower for both the major and minor leaguers who participated in the program. Major leaguers saw a 25 percent reduction in the rate of injury, while the minor leaguers saw their injury rate decrease by 40 percent.

In addition, players in both groups who did suffer a hamstring injury saw their time on the sidelines greatly reduced. The major leaguers lost an average of nine days, compared to 25.9 days for members of the control group. Meanwhile, the minor leaguers lost an average of 11.63 days, compared to the 21.3 days lost by minor leaguers in the control group.

The study is going to continue for an additional season, and researchers are still trying to determine the best way to implement these types of prevention programs. However, they are pleased with the findings and confident that the information will be useful for both athletes and medical professionals.

"Our study confirmed that utilizing hamstring injury prevention programs can help lessen lost play time and be a cost-efficient way to do so. Further research is needed to fine tune the best mechanisms for these injury reduction programs," Silvers-Granelli said in a press release.

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