Reduced match exposure in the previous 2 matches accounts for hamstring muscle injury incidence in professional football players

Review written by Dr Jarred Boyd info

Key Points

  1. Lower accumulation of high-speed running distances appears to play more of a significant role in hamstring strain injury as adaptations are unacquired and or a tissues mechanical stress threshold is acutely reduced.
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Tissue based stress-strain capacity exceeding injuries, especially of the hamstrings, are often posited to occur as a consequence of external workload surpassing a tissues envelope of function. Decreasing external workload (i.e. physical work completed), as noted by speed and distances covered, is a common approach for reducing hamstring injury risk (1). However, this approach may be a reductionist premise in the pursuit of injury reduction. While decreasing external workload may lower the exposure to injury, it may inadvertently result in reduced load tolerance during the terminal task (2).

Despite practitioners' intentions to resolve modifiable internal risk factors (i.e. constraints), typically through the medium of load application for both neuromuscular and architectural adaptations, considering external load as a mediator may prove to be a worthwhile consideration. Establishing more efficacious solutions for hamstring strain injuries requires a comprehensive perspective – ensuring all the determinants in the web are analyzed.

Thus, the aim of the study is to assess match play exposure and running demands, in particular high-speed running, and determine the potential influence on hamstring strain injuries.

Decreasing external workload is a common approach for reducing hamstring injury risk.
Establishing a chronic high-speed running workload during training may confer protective benefits during match play.


  • This study followed two Spanish 1ˢᵗ Division League professional football teams throughout three sequential seasons.
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