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The early management of muscle strains in the elite athlete: best practice in a world with a limited evidence basis
  1. John W Orchard1,
  2. Thomas M Best2,
  3. Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt3,
  4. Glenn Hunter4,
  5. Bruce H Hamilton5,
  6. Nick Webborn6,
  7. Rod Jaques7,
  8. Dean Kenneally7,
  9. Richard Budgett8,
  10. Nicola Phillips9,
  11. Caryl Becker8,
  12. Philip Glasgow10
  1. 1
    Sports Medicine at Sydney University, University of Sydney, Australia
  2. 2
    Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  3. 3
    Bayern Munich, Munich, Germany
  4. 4
    UK Sport, London, UK
  5. 5
    UK Athletics Medical Department, Solihull, West Midlands, UK
  6. 6
    University of Brighton, Brighton, UK
  7. 7
    English Institute of Sport, Manchester, UK
  8. 8
    Olympic Medical Institute, London, UK
  9. 9
    Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  10. 10
    Sports Institute Northern Ireland, Jordanstown, UK
  1. Dr J W Orchard, Sports Medicine at Sydney University, Western Ave & Physics Rd, University of Sydney 2006, Australia; johnorchard{at}

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From 12 to 14 December 2007 UK Sport held a think tank on “muscle strains” in London.

This brought together many of UK Sport’s top sports medicine clinicians along with three invited international experts. Many issues of muscle strains were discussed over the three days, but the aspect that attracted the most attention was the early management of strains in the elite athlete. A consensus summary of conclusions on this specific topic from the think tank is presented here.

The international experts were chosen by request of the UK clinicians for different reasons. Drs Best (basic science) and Orchard (epidemiology) are recognised internationally by the peer-review system as experts in their fields. Dr Mueller-Wohlfahrt is also recognised internationally as Europe’s premier clinician in the early management of muscle strains. This recognition was initially bestowed on him by his patients, most notably from the thousands of professional football players he has managed over the past 30 years from every country in Europe. Increasingly this recognition has been accorded by the “mainstream” clinicians in the United Kingdom, hence his invitation to the think tank.

With the reserve typical of both the British and the scientific community, a common assessment of Dr Mueller-Wohlfahrt’s methods by delegates was “initially I had to be sceptical, but I have seen and heard of so many good results that I am now curious to know why these good outcomes are occurring”.

One session of the think tank involved an assessment of our “expert recommendations” for the early management of muscle strains in the elite athlete and a judgement of the evidence base for making the recommendations. The evidence base part was generally easy: almost all of our so-called knowledge has a basis …

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