OBJECTIVE--To determine whether the use of thermal pants might reduce the risk of hamstring injury in rugby players. METHODS--44 male rugby players from the Cape Province, South Africa, who had previously suffered a hamstring injury were given the choice of wearing thermal warming pants or not, and were then monitored for the development of hamstring injuries during the 1992 season. RESULTS--In the group who wore warmers some of the time, the injury rate was significantly lower when using the warmers (3 injuries/1000 playing hours) than when not (57/1000 playing hours). There was no difference in injury rates between groups who either wore warmers all the time or none of the time, probably because the number who wore the warmers all the time was small (n = 5). Eighteen percent of the injuries recurred at exactly the same site in the muscle and within 12 d of returning to rugby after the initial injury. The incidence of injury was high in the first three weeks of the season and again in the same period after the mid-season break. More than 80% of all match and practice time lost by these players during the study was a direct result of their hamstring injuries. CONCLUSIONS--Thermal pants may have a role in preventing recurrent hamstring injuries but other factors such as inadequate preseason training and incomplete rehabilitation after injury are likely to be more significant risk factors for injury.
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