Issue date: 02 June 2003

ISSUE DATE: 02/06/03

Hamstring injuries result in thousands of missed matches by professional football players with a considerable impact on team performance and serious economic consequences for the clubs involved. Predicting players who are most at risk - and ensuring they receive the right treatment - could ease these effects.

Research by The Football Association (FA) has found that hamstring injuries are the most common muscle/tendon injury in professional players and typically result in 90 days absence through injury and 15 matches missed per club per season.

Now The FA in collaboration with The Professional Footballers Association has asked the University of the West of England to carry out important research into this common problem.

Project Leader Glenn Hunter, a principal lecturer in Physiotherapy at UWE, says this research is important for the wellbeing of players as well as the performance of the teams, “A hamstring injury is one of the most common injuries experienced by players and is very disabling for a professional footballer. Current research indicates that the only factor which can predict a hamstring injury occurring is a previous injury of this type. We need to find out if there are any other risk factors involved and also find out the best way to manage the injury once it has occurred to reduce the risk of it happening again.”

Glenn was himself an apprentice professional footballer with Blackpool Football Club until a knee injury at the age of 17 ruled out football as a career. He trained as a chartered physiotherapist and worked in the NHS at several leading hospitals and clubs such as Reading, Crystal Palace and Fulham before joining UWE as a lecturer 9 years ago.

Glenn says the research will cover four stages, “First of all we will look at how the muscles function – for this we will be linking with the University of Bristol. We will then go into the clubs to do some screening of players – measuring the flexibility and stiffness of muscles to see if this can help predict whether an injury will occur. Following this we will aim to identify common practice among physiotherapists and doctors to see how they treat these injuries. Finally we aim to develop codes of practice and guidance for managing these injuries based on the research we have carried out.


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