Finding the Best Way to Beef Up Your Hamstrings after Sports InjuriesHamstring strains are a common sports injury. (The hamstrings are the muscles in the back of the thigh.) Most of the time the hamstrings are hurt while sprinting. Runners, soccer players, or football players are moving at high speeds and suddenly pull up lame. Hamstring injuries are especially annoying to athletes because recovery can take a long time, and the risk or re-injury is high.
Athletic trainers and physical therapists have developed hamstring rehabilitation programs for athletes. However, these programs are not based on much medical research. These authors wanted to help develop evidence for hamstring rehab programs. This small-scale study compared two methods of treating athletes after hamstring injuries.
Twenty-four athletes with injured hamstrings were divided into two groups. All the athletes started their rehab programs within 10 days of injury. None of them used any other treatments, including medications, during the rehab program. Group one did a program of static stretching, resistance exercises that were focused on specific muscles, and icing. Group two did agility and trunk exercises and icing.
The athletes had weekly meetings with the physical therapist. They did their exercises at home every day. Before the athletes could go back to sports, they had to do jumping and sprinting tests to prove that their hamstring was better. They were told to continue the exercises at least three days a week for the next two months. Neither group went back to sports significantly faster. Both groups performed about the same on the function tests.
But the re-injury rates were much different. Within two weeks, six athletes in group one had re-injured their hamstrings, compared to none in group two. Within the first year, a total of 70 percent of group one had re-injured their hamstrings. This compared to only eight percent in group two.
The agility and trunk exercises obviously seem to be a better way to rehabilitate hamstring injuries. Still, larger studies are needed to find out exactly why and how the exercises work. The authors note that they are studying how these exercises affect the hip and trunk muscles.
Marc A. Sherry, PT, LAT, CSCS, and Thomas M. Best, MD, PhD. A Comparison of Two Rehabilitation Programs in the Treatment of Acute Hamstring Strains. In Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. March 2004. Vol. 34. No. 3. Pp. 116-125.
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