Objective: To investigate early clinical predictors of time to return to competition and of recurrence following hamstring strain.
Design: Prospective observational study.
Setting: Elite level of Australian Football competition.
Participants: 59 players who suffered a hamstring strain in 2002 season.
Predictors: Clinical assessment by a physiotherapist and questionnaire.
Main outcome measures: Time taken to return to play and recurrence of hamstring injury within 3 weeks.
Results: Players taking more than one day to walk pain-free were significantly more likely to take longer than three weeks to return to competition (AOR 4.0; 95% CI 1.3, 12.6; p=0.018). Nine players (15.2%) experienced an injury recurrence; all involving the biceps femoris. Recurrence was more likely in players who reported a hamstring injury in past 12 months (AOR 19.6; 95% CI: 1.5, 261.0; p=0.025).
Conclusion: Time to walk pain-free and previous hamstring injury are predictors of time to return to competition and recurrence, respectively, and should be included in a clinical assessment to aid in prognosis.