Background To investigate the association between running exposure and the risk of hamstring strain injury (HSI) in elite Australian footballers.
Methods Elite Australian footballers (n=220) from 5 different teams participated. Global positioning system (GPS) data were provided for every athlete for each training session and match for the entire 2015 season. The occurrences of HSIs throughout the study period were reported. Receiver operator characteristic curve analyses were performed and the relative risk (RR) of subsequent HSI was calculated for absolute and relative running exposure variables related to distance covered above 10 and 24 km/hour in the preceding week/s.
Results 30 prospective HSIs occurred. For the absolute running exposure variables, weekly distance covered above 24 km/hour (>653 m, RR=3.4, 95% CI 1.6 to 7.2, sensitivity=0.52, specificity=0.76, area under the curve (AUC)=0.63) had the largest influence on the risk of HSI in the following week. For the relative running exposure variables, distance covered above 24 km/hour as a percentage of distance covered above 10 km/hour (>2.5%, RR=6.3, 95% CI 1.5 to 26.7, sensitivity=0.93, specificity=0.34, AUC=0.63) had the largest influence on the risk of HSI in the following week. Despite significant increases in the RR of HSI, the predictive capacity of these variables was limited.
Conclusions An association exists between absolute and relative running exposure variables and elite Australian footballers' risk of subsequent HSI, with the association strongest when examining data within 7–14 days. Despite this, the use of running exposure variables displayed limited clinical utility to predict HSI at the individual level.
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Contributors JDR and DAO contributed to the design of the study. JDR, RGT, AJS and DAO contributed to the collection of the data. JDR and CWP performed the data analysis. JDR, RGT, MDW and DAO performed the statistical analysis. JDR and DAO drafted the manuscript. CWP, RGT, MDW and AJS contributed to the manuscript.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval This study was approved by the Queensland University of Technology and Australian Catholic University Human Research Ethics Committees.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement Data will be made available on request.
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