By Ian McMahan | Photo by Donald Miralle


In a study analyzing Australian football players, researchers found that those suffering from a hamstring muscle strain within the previous 12 months were more than four times more likely to incur another hamstring strain as opposed to players without history of previous hamstring injury. One such study found that 10 months after a hamstring muscle injury, athletes used their previously injured hamstring about half as much on the injured side as on the uninjured side when performing a hamstring strengthening exercise.

It’s not just strength that is affected. A 2015 article in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports found that subjects with previous hamstring injuries demonstrated significant reductions in muscle function and asymmetries in running mechanics when compared with their uninjured counterparts.


In a 2009 American Journal of Sports Medicine study investigating the effect of ankle sprains on recurrent ankle sprains in 202 elite Greek track athletes, researchers determined that nearly 20 percent of rest-time ankle sprain sufferers were laid low by a second lateral ankle sprain by the end of the follow-up period. Participants with a six-month history of rest-time lateral ankle sprain displayed an altered balancing technique, which involved greater use of the hip muscles and less of the ankle stabilizers when compared to non-injured controls.

Those with a history of ankle sprains also exhibit dynamic balance deficits on both their previously injured and non-injured limbs.


Cyclists with a history of back pain showed a trend toward increased lower lumbar flexion (back rounding) and rotation with an associated loss of co-contraction of the lower lumbar multifidus, a key stabilizer of the spine, while riding. This is important because increased rounding of the lower back has been associated with increased stress to the lumbar disks, a common site of back injury. The study’s findings suggest that altered muscle control and function of the lower back are associated with the development of low back pain in cyclists.


While it has been difficult for researchers to ascertain if muscular deficits are the result or cause of patellofemoral pain syndrome, decreased hip abductor and quad strength is generally present in those suffering from kneecap pain.


The strength of the calf muscles and ankle range of motion were identified as significant predictors of an Achilles tendon overuse injury. Interestingly, those with excessive ankle range of motion were also identified as having an increased risk.


Runners with previous ITBS exhibited differences in running biomechanics and lower hip abductor strength. Strengthening the hip abductors is an important component of treating runners with current and prior ITBS. Additionally, lower extremity strength training may benefit both currently and previously injured runners.


Though seldom considered, muscle strength plays a critical role in the prevention of stress fractures. Several studies have supported the protective role of muscle in the development of stress fracture injury. The importance of calf muscle size and strength has been particularly noted as important for lower leg stress fracture avoidance.

feb-mar-16This first appeared in the February/March 2016 issue of LAVA. Get your issue here.

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