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2004 Publications

The prevention of muscle strains in sport: Effective pre-season interventions?by McHugh M. P. - last modified 2012-11-27 00:00
International SportMed Journal. Vol.5 No.3 2004. pp. 177-187.


Muscle strains are common in high speed sports and account for 10-40% of injuries in sports such as soccer, Australian Rules football and American football. The first step in prevention of muscle strains is to identify the incidence of injury for specific muscle strains.

The next step is to identify risk factors for that particular muscle strain. Then an intervention or interventions can be developed to address a specific risk factor or combination of risk factors.

Lastly, the incidence of injury can be reassessed following implementation of the intervention. In practice this process is rarely completed in sports medicine. Many studies do not accurately measure injury incidence and therefore cannot properly identify risk factors.

Other studies document injury incidence and risk factors for all injuries but do not address the incidence and risk factors particular to muscle strains. There are few studies that have implemented prevention strategies resulting in a reduction in muscle strains. Based on the available literature it appears that a history of previous muscle strain, muscle weakness and age are risk factors for muscle strains.

For many sports the period of preseason training provides a window of opportunity for sports medicine clinicians to implement injury prevention strategies.

Based on limited research, it appears that muscle strengthening programmes, with an emphasis on eccentric loading, targeted at specific muscle groups susceptible to injury in a particular sport, and applied to players suspected to have increased risk of injury, can effectively reduce the incidence of muscle strains.

Keywords: injury incidence, hamstring, groin, risk factors, risk reduction, eccentric training.