Background Hamstring muscle strain injuries (HMSI) are the greatest injury problem in kicking sports such as Australian Rules Football. Reduced hamstring muscle strength is commonly perceived to be a risk factor for hamstring injury; however, evidence is inconclusive. Testing hamstring strength with the hip and knee at functional angles and assessing endurance parameters may be more relevant for examining the risk of hamstring injury.
Objective The primary aim of this prospective study was to examine if reduced hamstring muscle strength assessed with the single leg hamstring bridge (SLHB) was a risk factor for hamstring injury.
Methods Hamstring muscle strength of 482 amateur and semielite players from 16 football clubs, mean age 20.7 (range 16–34 years), was tested during the 2011 preseason. Players were then monitored throughout the 2011 playing season for HMSI.
Results A total of 28 hamstring injuries, 16 right and 12 left, were recorded. Players who sustained a right HMSI during the season had a significantly lower mean right SLHB score (p=0.029), were older (p=0.002) and were more likely to have sustained a past right hamstring injury (p=0.02) or right knee injury (p=0.035). For left-sided hamstring injury, the injured group was more likely to be left leg dominant (p=0.001), older athletes (p=0.002) and there was a trend towards a history of left hamstring injury (p=0.07).
Conclusions This study demonstrated a significant deficit in preseason SLHB scores on the right leg of players that subsequently sustained a right-sided hamstring injury. Age, previous knee injury and a history of hamstring injury were other risk factors supported in this study. Low hamstring strength appears to be a risk factor for hamstring injury; however, due to the confounding variables and low injury rate in this study, further studies are required.
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