The most common injury over the last 20 years in the AFL is the hamstring injury. Minor improvements in injury rates have occurred, mainly due to improved fitness training and better emphasis on injury prevention. The hamstring consists of three main muscles at the back of the thigh. There are two muscles on the inside of the thigh and the biceps femoris on the outside of the thigh. The biceps femoris is more prone to injury than the inside muscles. Hamstring injuries usually occur by an overstretching activity such as kicking or bending down to the ball or whilst the athlete is sprinting.
How to Prevent Injury?
One of the primary injury prevention strategies is for the coaching staff to try and match the sprinting demands of a training session to the requirements of a game. A specific strength program for the hamstrings can improve the tolerance to stretching and sprinting that the muscle can withstand.
How long will it take to heal?
A skilled sports physio needs to assess and determine whether other factors are contributing to the hamstring injury. The lower back, hip, knee and the nerves that run down the back of the leg may also play a role in hamstring pain. Typically a small hamstring injury (grade 1) will take 3-4 weeks to return to sport. The more severe tears (grade 3) can involve many months of rehabilitation exercises and treatment, depending on how much muscle and tendon damage there is.
What treatment do I need if I've hurt my hamstring?
The physiotherapists at West Lakes Physio- Sports and Rehab are very experienced in dealing with hamstring injuries. They will plan a specific rehabilitation programme involving strength and running exercises. Hands-on treatment to the injury site and other relevant areas, such as your low back, will also be part of your treatment plan to allow full recovery and reduce the risk of reinjury.