Hamstring strain injuries are common across a range of sports, especially those involving sprinting, kicking and high-speed skills. They remain one of the main causes of time lost to injury within all levels of Aussie rules football.
Hamstring injuries have been reported at 6.1 new hamstring injuries per club per year, with a recurrence rate of almost 1 in 4. Potential risk factors to hamstring strains include hamstring muscle weakness and thigh muscle imbalance, previous hamstring injury, other previous injury and age.
For all initial injuries the immediate treatment is the POLICE procedure:Protect. Stop running, avoid activities that aggravate the injury.
Optimal Load. Your physiotherapist can show you exercises to activate, stretch and mobilise the muscle with the correct load to promote tissue healing.
Ice the area. This cools the tissue and helps to minimise further bleeding and swelling. The protocol for icing is to apply it for 20 minutes every 2 hours for at least 48 hours. Icing has been shown to be one of the most effective ways of reducing the pain and swelling in the early stages of the injury.
Compression using a bandage, covering the area above and below the injury.
Elevate the leg which will also help to reduce the bleeding and thus the swelling.
Due to the high prevalence of recurrence it is important to see your health professional for appropriate management with a graded return to play program. Your physiotherapist will assess your current level of function, strength and performance and gradually reintroduce you into training when appropriate.
Even if you haven’t had a hamstring strain there are still things you can do to reduce your risk of injury. The AFL commissioned the development of a training program to prevent leg injuries in community Australian Football based on the latest and best clinical evidence. The Footy First program is designed to be implemented during the preseason (however can be modified to be implemented at any point in time) and aims to promote strengthening in dynamic control in a graded program over 5 level.
The key to the program in the improvement in hamstring strength and reduction in hamstrings injuries are the Nordic hamstring curls, proven to develop strength in the hamstrings. A graded introduction of Nordic hamstring curls is important not to overload the hamstrings.
AFL Footy First Program
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Disclaimer: The content on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely or act upon information from www.coastsport.com.au without seeking professional medical advice. Do not delay seeing a doctor if you think you have a medical problem or injury.
Thanks to Coast Sport Physiotherapist Tim for preparing this blog. Find out more about Tim here.