Objective: To conduct a detailed analysis of hamstring injuries sustained in English professional football over two competitive seasons.
Methods: Club medical staff at 91 professional football clubs annotated player injuries over two seasons. A specific injury audit questionnaire was used together with a weekly form that documented each clubs' current injury status.
Results: Completed injury records for the two competitive seasons were obtained from 87% and 76% of the participating clubs respectively. Hamstring strains accounted for 12% of the total injuries over the two seasons with nearly half (53%) involving the biceps femoris. An average of five hamstring strains per club per season was observed. A total of 13 116 days and 2029 matches were missed because of hamstring strains, giving an average of 90 days and 15 matches missed per club per season. In 57% of cases, the injury occurred during running. Hamstring strains were most often observed during matches (62%) with an increase at the end of each half (p<0.01). Groups of players sustaining higher than expected rates of hamstring injury were Premiership (p<0.01) and outfield players (p<0.01), players of black ethnic origin (p<0.05), and players in the older age groups (p<0.01). Only 5% of hamstring strains underwent some form of diagnostic investigation. The reinjury rate for hamstring injury was 12%.
Conclusion: Hamstring strains are common in football. In trying to reduce the number of initial and recurrent hamstring strains in football, prevention of initial injury is paramount. If injury does occur, the importance of differential diagnosis followed by the management of all causes of posterior thigh pain is emphasised. Clinical reasoning with treatment based on best available evidence is recommended.