Background Hamstring strain injuries (HSIs) are common within the Australian Football League (AFL) with most occurring during high-speed running (HSR). Therefore, this study investigated possible relationships between mean session running distances, session ratings of perceived exertion (s-RPE) and HSIs within AFL footballers.
Methods Global positioning system (GPS)-derived running distances and s-RPE for all matches and training sessions over two AFL seasons were obtained from one AFL team. All HSIs were documented and each player's running distances and s-RPE were standardised to their 2-yearly session average, then compared between injured and uninjured players in the 4 weeks (weeks −1, −2, −3 and −4) preceding each injury.
Results Higher than ‘typical’ (ie, z=0) HSR session means were associated with a greater likelihood of HSI (week −1: OR=6.44, 95% CI=2.99 to 14.41, p<0.001; summed weeks −1 and −2: OR=3.06, 95% CI=2.03 to 4.75, p<0.001; summed weeks −1, −2 and −3: OR=2.22, 95% CI=1.66 to 3.04, p<0.001; and summed weeks −1, −2, −3 and −4: OR=1.96, 95% CI=1.54 to 2.51, p<0.001). However, trivial differences were observed between injured and uninjured groups for standardised s-RPE, total distance travelled and distances covered whilst accelerating and decelerating. Increasing AFL experience was associated with a decreased HSI risk (OR=0.77, 95% CI 0.57 to 0.97, p=0.02). Furthermore, HSR data modelling indicated that reducing mean distances in week −1 may decrease the probability of HSI.
Conclusions Exposing players to large and rapid increases in HSR distances above their 2-yearly session average increased the odds of HSI. However, reducing HSR in week −1 may offset HSI risk.
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Contributors SD was the principal investigator and was involved with study design, recruitment, analysis and manuscript preparation. CF was involved with data collection and analysis. AJS, DO and MW were involved with the study design, analysis and manuscript preparation. TJG was involved with analysis and manuscript preparation. All authors had full access to all of the data (including statistical reports and tables) in the study and can take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval Queensland University of Technology Research Ethics Committee.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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