Early versus delayed lengthening exercises for acute hamstring injury in male athletes: a randomised controlled clinical trial

Review written by Dr Travis Pollen info

Key Points

  1. Hamstring rehabilitation programs that include lengthening exercises reduce time to return to sport and lower reinjury rates, but the optimal point in rehabilitation to introduce these exercises was not known.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Hamstring strains are a burdensome injury in terms of time loss, cost and performance impairments. As such, high-quality rehabilitation is crucial to return athletes back to full performance as quickly and safely as possible with minimized risk of reinjury.

Two recent studies showed that rehabilitation programs which included exercises that lengthened the hamstrings reduced time to return to sport and lowered reinjury rates (1,2). However, the optimal point in rehabilitation to introduce these exercises had not been studied. The purpose of this study was to compare return to sport and reinjury rates in two groups, one that performed lengthening exercises early in rehabilitation and one that performed them later on (delayed).

Hamstring strains are a burdensome injury in terms of time loss, cost and performance impairments.
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Lengthening exercises can safely be introduced at the start or midpoint of hamstring rehabilitation, with a potentially slight advantage in time to return to sport for early lengthening.

METHODS

  • Over a 4.5-year period, 90 males between the ages of 18 and 36 (median = 26) with acute hamstring strain injuries (grade 1 or 2 confirmed by MRI) participated in a randomized controlled trial (RCT).
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