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Pre-Season Conditioning Helps Prevent Hamstring Injuries

Hamstring injuries are some of the most common injuries in football, baseball, track and field, rugby, and soccer. In fact, an acute hamstring strain is believed to be the most common injury in adult male soccer players, makes up between 12 percent and 16 percent of all injuries. Acute hamstring strains usually require a 2- to 6-week absence from sports, and they have a fairly high recurrence rate, especially in the first few weeks after return to play. Knowing how an injury occurs, risk factors and prevention efforts can help keep athletes healthy.

How does a hamstring injury happen?

Acute hamstring strains are generally noncontact injuries. Sprinting, such as in passing plays in football and running from home plate to first base in baseball, is a common activity leading to injury.

What are the risk factors?

The risk for acute hamstring strain increases with age and levels of competition. Other risk factors include imbalances in hamstring strength, decreased flexibility of the hip flexors, and higher body weight.

Multiple studies of injuries of American football show predominance of these injuries in preseason. Hamstring muscle weakness and deconditioning of the athletes in the off-season could be factors in the timing of the injuries

By far, the biggest risk factor for a hamstring strain is a history of prior injury. A soccer player who previously suffered a hamstring strain is more than twice as likely to suffer another injury. Inadequate recovery and rehabilitation from the original injury and return to play too quickly could play a role. It is believed that even with a comprehensive rehabilitation program, an athlete’s chance of recurrent injury is still high.


Injury prevention efforts have increased due to the long absences from sports and high recurrence rates. Identifying athletes with hamstring strength imbalances and correcting them and having athletes perform agility and trunk stabilization programs may be beneficial. Given the amount of hamstring strains occurring in preseason, athletes should enhance their sport-specific conditioning prior to the early training sessions. Focusing on sprinting, interval running, acceleration drills, and eccentric hamstring strengthening may prevent some hamstring injuries

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