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INCIDENCE, RISK, AND PREVENTION OF HAMSTRING MUSCLE INJURIES IN PROFESSIONAL RUGBY UNION

Professor Martin P Schwellnus, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Background: Hamstring muscle injuries are common in professional rugby union, yet there are few well conducted studies to determine risk factors for these injuries in this sport.

Research question/s: What are the incidence, severity and risk factors associated with hamstring muscle injuries in professional rugby union?

Methodology:Subjects: 546 elite rugby football union players (300 forwards, 246 backs) (12 teams).

Experimental procedure: The cohort of players was followed over two seasons, and medical staff from each team documented match and training exposures as well as all hamstring muscle injuries (location, diagnosis, severity and mechanism) on a weekly basis. Injuries were defined based on loss of time from training and match play. Training (stretching (Stretch)), stretching and conventional strengthening exercises (Stretch+Strength) and additional Nordic strengthening exercises (+Nordic strength) were recorded.

Measures of outcome: Incidence of injury (injuries/1000 hrs play), severity (days lost), risk factors for injury.

Main finding/s::


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  • Incidence (per 1000 hrs) of hamstring muscle injuries: higher in matches (5.6) vs training (0.27); during matches was higher in backs (8.6) vs forwards (3.0). Running accounted for 68% of the hamstring injuries.

  • Risk factors: a previous injury <1 month ago, and training >12.5 hrs in the preceding week were …

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