This Month in Sports Rehabilitation: Hamstring Injuries (June 2011)

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Hamstring strains are very common injuries for sports involving sprinting, kicking or high-speed skilled movements.


Between 1998 and 2007 hamstring strains were the second-most common injury in the National Football League, only surpassed by knee sprains. A two-year analysis of professional soccer teams revealed that 12 percent of all injuries were hamstring strains.


The injury is more common in men than women and can be frustrating because it often requires time away from sport. Upon return there is a high potential for re-injury or reduced performance.


Hamstring Rehabilitation at UW Health Sports Medicine


UW Health Sports Rehabilitation has been on the forefront of improving athletes' outcomes returning from hamstring strains. Recently, physical therapist Marc Sherry conducted a review that compared hamstring rehabilitation programs. Athletes with hamstring strains were randomly placed in one of two rehabilitation programs for treatment - the first a hamstring stretching and strengthening program and the second a novel progressive agility and trunk stabilization program developed at UW Health Sports Rehabilitation. Athletes in the second group demonstrated one-year re-injury rates of 7.7 percent for hamstring strains, compared to a 50 percent re-injury rate for the traditional hamstring stretching and strengthening programs.


Read the article in Strength and Conditioning Journal (subscriber login required)


Marc and colleague Bryan Heiderscheit are now completing a follow-up study using an eight-camera motion analysis system to identify how injury and rehabilitation can affect running and sprinting mechanics. Marc and Bryan are also incorporating magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) analysis to identify how muscle-tendon injuries heal. Their hope is this study will provide more evidence to determine when athletes can safely return to sport following hamstring injury.


  1. Feeley, B.T., et al., Epidemiology of National Football League training camp injuries from 1998 to 2007. Am J Sports Med, 2008.
  2. Sherry, M.A. and T.M. Best, A comparison of 2 rehabilitation programs in the treatment of acute hamstring strains. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 2004. 34(3): p. 116-25.
  3. Woods, C., et al., The Football Association Medical Research Programme: an audit of injuries in professional football - analysis of hamstring injuries. Br J Sports Med, 2004. 38(1): p. 36-41.