Hamstring injuries are a common type of non contact injury in British football, this injury affects the muscles at the back of the thigh. These injuries can range from mild strains to severe tears and can occur during activities that involve running, jumping, or sudden stops. Hamstring injuries can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected area, leading to difficulty walking or standing.
According to some studies, hamstring injuries can account for up to 12% of all injuries in British football, making them the most frequent(1). 12 to 33% of athletes with these injuries have the tendencies to experience a recurrence within a year after the initial injury(2). A 13-year study found that the occurrence of a hamstring injury has increased by 4% year on year(3).
Grade 1 Hamstring Injury Recovery Time: The lightest injury, usually only a muscle pull or strain. Recovery typically only takes a few days.
Grade 2 Hamstring Injury Recovery Time: This grade includes partial muscle tears. You’ll likely need to take a couple of weeks off from training while it recovers.
Grade 3 Hamstring Injury Recovery Time: A complete muscle tear. This is the most severe degree of hamstring injuries and usually requires several months to heal.
Hamstring injuries usually fall into the non-contact classification. More information on types of injuries can be found in our recent Keeping On Top Of Injury Prevention blog post. Hamstring injuries are commonly caused by two types of actions;
Type 1 - Sprinting action
Type 2 - Kicking (a combination of knee and hip flexion)
GPS data can be used to prevent hamstring injuries by monitoring an athlete's training load and identifying potential risk factors for injury. By tracking an athlete's movements and workload using GPS technology, coaches and trainers can monitor the volume and intensity of training sessions. Athletes must adjust their training loads as they work to enhance their performance, especially by increasing their frequency, duration, and intensity. Depending on the stage of training, training loads are changed at various points during the cycle to either increase or decrease fatigue(5).
Overall, using GPS data to monitor training load and identify potential risk factors can effectively prevent hamstring injuries and improve overall athletic performance.
A recent study found that eccentric hamstring strength significantly decreased when 7-8 weekly sprint efforts at max>90% were completed but not at <6 weekly efforts suggesting that a high volume of intense sprinting may increase the risk of hamstring injury by compromising the strength of the eccentric hamstring muscles(6). Eccentric contractions occur when the muscle lengthens under tension, common during running and sprinting. Therefore, a decrease in eccentric strength can increase the risk of hamstring strains or tears, particularly during high-intensity efforts.
To prevent hamstring injuries, athletes and coaches should carefully manage the volume and intensity of sprint training and incorporate appropriate recovery periods to allow for adequate muscle recovery and adaptation.
In addition, exercises that specifically target eccentric hamstring strength, such as Nordic hamstring curls or glute-ham raises, should be included in training programs to help improve strength and reduce the risk of injury. There is an indication that by monitoring training volume and incorporating appropriate strengthening exercises, athletes can reduce their risk of hamstring injuries and improve their overall performance(7).
Decelerations are a valuable metric in terms of an eccentric loading placed upon a player. As a player decelerates the hamstring muscle will experience a considerable eccentric loading where the muscle lengthens under tension.
Through the use of PlayerData you can monitor this via the use of the progress bar where you can track the top speed, decelerations week on week as well as monitor the players sprint events making sure that the players are not exposed to more than 6 maximal efforts a week. You can also use the compare tab to compare a player's performance in the most recent games. This tool can be useful to see any changes in fitness levels week on week or game by game. In terms of the comparison it doesn't stop there. You can also use one of our latest features, where you can view a report on any of the athletes to monitor the athlete load in a weekly comparison.
From a coaches point of view you can also monitor Session totals and averages in the multisession reports. This can highlight the change in overall team loading to make decisions on rest periods to help aid recovery in the players. You can use reports to compare training loads session by session, match loads session by session or training and match sessions. It is also important to evaluate an athlete's performance in matches and compare it to their training metrics to determine how well they are able to apply their training to real-world scenarios. This comparison helps to identify areas for further improvement and adjustment in training programs.
Initial management of hamstring strains in the acute phase includes the RICE protocol of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. There are three phases of rehabilitation for acute hamstring strains that should be followed in a progressive manner. Phase 1 concentrates on reducing pain and edema (swelling caused by too much fluid trapped in the body's tissues), preventing the formation of scars, developing neuromuscular control at slow speed, and preventing excessive lengthening(1). The neuromuscular system refers to the network of muscles and nerves that cooperate to provide movement.
Phase II of rehabilitation entails increasing the exercises' difficulty and range of motion, starting eccentric resistance exercises, and beginning faster-paced neuromuscular training. In comparison to Phase I, the exercises will gradually widen the range of motion and lengthen the hamstring(1,8).
In order to get the athlete back on the pitch, phase three of rehabilitation entails more challenging eccentric strengthening workouts and neuromuscular control drills. During this stage, the athlete's range of motion is often unrestricted. More sport-specific drills and dynamic agility exercises should be incorporated into progressive ability and trunk stabilisation workouts(1,8).
GPS data can be a useful tool in monitoring load and top speed during injury recovery. By tracking the athlete's movements and activity levels, coaches and trainers can determine if they are overexerting themselves or if they are progressing at an appropriate pace. This information can be used to adjust their training regimen accordingly.
Load monitoring refers to tracking the amount of physical stress placed on an athlete during training or competition. GPS data can help determine the athlete's workload by measuring their distance covered, speed, and acceleration. By analysing this data, coaches and trainers can adjust the athlete's training schedule to prevent overtraining or undertraining.
Top speed monitoring refers to tracking the athlete's maximum velocity during training or competition. This information can help coaches and trainers determine if the athlete is ready to return to full competition or if they need more time to recover. By monitoring the athlete's top speed, coaches can also identify any changes in performance that may indicate an underlying injury(6).
Overall, GPS data can be a valuable tool in injury recovery by providing objective measures of an athlete's workload and progress. By using this information, coaches and trainers can adjust the athlete's training regimen to optimise their recovery and minimise the risk of re-injury.