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COMPARISON OF ECCENTRIC HAMSTRING STRENGTH AND INJURY RATES BETWEEN PROFESSIONAL AND SEMI-PROFESSIONAL AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALLERS
  1. S Duhig
  1. Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

Abstract

Background Hamstring strain injuries (HSI) are the most common injury within Australian football with reports showing no decrease in incidence over two decades.

Objective To compare differences of HSIs and eccentric hamstring strength, using a field-based testing device, between elite and sub-elite Australian footballers.

Design A prospective cohort study.

Setting 2 football teams were involved in the study with data collected at their respective club. The first team competes in the elite Australian Football League (AFL) whilst the other competes in the sub-elite North East Australian Football League (NEAFL).

Participants 82 Australian footballers, 41 footballers from a sub-elite NEAFL team and 41 footballers from an elite AFL team participated in the study.

Risk factor assessment The teams were tested during their preseason, with each footballer performing 3 repetitions of the Nordic hamstring exercise on a field-based testing device. Between limb imbalance and absolute strength were the independent variables.

Main outcome measurements The dependent variable was the HSI rates, each team was required to record all injuries for the subsequent ‘home and away’ season.

Results Although not statistically significant, elite AFL players displayed slightly higher average peak torques for the left limb (+17.5N, P=.113) and right limb (+21.1N, P=.09). No difference was observed for between limb imbalance (P=.408) between elite and sub-elite players. However, elite players sustained 3 times more HSIs (9 vs. 3) and missed a greater number of games as a result (28 vs. 6).

Conclusion Minimal differences were observed between strength and between limb strength imbalances, however, a 60% increase in HSIs was observed in the elite group. We propose that the strength levels displayed within the AFL and additional study is required to assess whether the elite level has higher physical demands and thus requiring greater strength.

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