This Month in Sports Rehabilitation: Hamstring Injuries (April/May 2010)

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What do football players, soccer players, dancers and runners have in common? Hamstring strains, which are among the most common injuries for all of these athletes.


A 2008 study from the NFL showed that hamstring strains were the second most common injury after "knee sprains." In soccer, hamstring strains can account for up to 23 percent of all acute injuries.


Hamstring Injury and Recurrence


One of the most frustrating aspects of hamstring injuries is the high rate of recurrence. One study showed that 50% of a group of athletes with hamstring injuries re-injured the same hamstring within the first year of return to sport.


A 2010 study from Norway showed that soccer players who previously injured their hamstring were more than twice as likely to suffer another hamstring injury than those athletes who had not sustained a hamstring injury.


UW Health Sports Rehabilitation has been on the cutting edge of rehabilitation for hamstring injuries. Marc Sherry is a physical therapist who designed a new rehabilitation program for hamstring strains called the "progressive agility and trunk stabilization" program, or PATS.


An athlete undergoes computerized strength testing to assess the strength of the injured vs. uninjured leg Research on this new rehabilitation program found that the re-injury rate for athletes decreased to 7.7 percent. The study was published in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy and won an award for excellence in clinical research. Read the full article (pdf)


Marc and UW Health Sports Rehabilitation have teamed up with Dr. Bryan Heiderscheit to conduct more studies on hamstring injuries. Dr. Heiderscheit is a physical therapist with a PhD in biomechanics. He directs the UW Health Sports Rehabilitation Runners Clinic and Neuromuscular Biomechanics Research Lab.


Marc and Bryan are currently comparing the influence of two promising rehabilitation programs (including the PATS program) on specific neuromuscular factors that contribute to time needed to return to one's sport and the associated re-injury risk.


UW Hamstring Injury Study


An athlete is videotaped using the 8-camera motion analysis system to assess running mechanics after injuryThis includes using MRI and ultrasound imaging to assess the hamstrings immediately after injury and through the course of rehabilitation and return to sport.


The study also involves using an 8-camera motion capture video analysis system in an attempt to identify any changes to an athlete's running mechanics before the athlete returns to his or her sport.


The study is open to athletes between the ages of 16 and 45 who have sustained a hamstring injury within the past 10 days. For more information or to potentially enroll in this study, call Marc at (608) 265-8312.


The expertise and experience gained by collaborating on clinical research projects and treating a significant number of these athletes has led to recognition as a leader in this field of sports rehabilitation.


In February 2010, Marc, Bryan and their colleagues were invited to publish an article in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy on appropriate diagnosis, treatment and prevention of hamstring injuries. Read the full article (pdf)


Injured? We Can Help!


A physical therapist measures hamstring flexibilityYou don't have to be a collegiate or professional athlete to benefit from the specialized services and expertise of the physical therapists and athletics trainers of UW Health Sports Rehabilitation - we care for athletes of all ages and ability levels. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call (608) 263-4765.





Engebretsen AH, Myklebust G, Holme I, Engebretsen L, Bahr R. Intrinsic Risk Factors for Hamstring Injuries Among Male Soccer Players: A Prospective Cohort Study. Am J Sports Med. 2010 Mar 24.


Feeley BT, Kennelly S, Barnes RP, Muller MS, Kelly BT, Rodeo SA, Warren RF. Epidemiology of National Football League training camp injuries from 1998 to 2007. Am J Sports Med. 2008 Aug;36(8):1597-603. Epub 2008 Apr 28.


Heiderscheit BC, Sherry MA, Silder A, Chumanov ES, Thelen DG. Hamstring strain injuries: recommendations for diagnosis, rehabilitation, and injury prevention. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2010 Feb;40(2):67-81.


Sherry MA, Best TM. A comparison of 2 rehabilitation programs in the treatment of acute hamstring strains. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2004 Mar;34(3):116-25.