A return-to-sport algorithm for acute hamstring injuries

Phys Ther Sport. 2011 Feb;12(1):2-14. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2010.07.003. Epub 2010 Aug 21.


Acute hamstring injuries are the most prevalent muscle injuries reported in sport. Despite a thorough and concentrated effort to prevent and rehabilitate hamstring injuries, injury occurrence and re-injury rates have not improved over the past 28 years. This failure is most likely due to the following: 1) an over-reliance on treating the symptoms of injury, such as subjective measures of "pain", with drugs and interventions; 2) the risk factors investigated for hamstring injuries have not been related to the actual movements that cause hamstring injuries i.e. not functional; and, 3) a multi-factorial approach to assessment and treatment has not been utilized. The purpose of this clinical commentary is to introduce a model for progression through a return-to-sport rehabilitation following an acute hamstring injury. This model is developed from objective and quantifiable tests (i.e. clinical and functional tests) that are structured into a step-by-step algorithm. In addition, each step in the algorithm includes a treatment protocol. These protocols are meant to help the athlete to improve through each phase safely so that they can achieve the desired goals and progress through the algorithm and back to their chosen sport. We hope that this algorithm can serve as a foundation for future evidence based research and aid in the development of new objective and quantifiable testing methods.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Algorithms*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Athletic Injuries / drug therapy
  • Athletic Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Cryotherapy
  • Humans
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Leg Injuries / drug therapy
  • Leg Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscle, Skeletal / injuries*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Pliability
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Sports Medicine*
  • Thigh / injuries*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal