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Preventing Hamstring Injuries

FIFA shares its hamstring injury prevention program for elite athletes.

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Hamstring injuries

Hamstring injuries are frequent and costly for professional soccer players and important for all active people to avoid. Medical professionals with the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) developed an injury prevention program that blends evidence-based methods and practical considerations. It emphasizes the need for individualized training that targets an athlete’s specific risk factors, based on ongoing screening and monitoring. Here is FIFA’s five-point strategy:

  1. Strengthen the hamstring muscles.
  2. Optimize training balance to ensure that players are not overworking and have adequate rest and recovery time.
  3. Implement a lumbo-pelvic-hip stability training program, since the pelvis is responsible for load transfer between the lower limbs and the spine.
  4. Develop physical conditioning that includes general lower-body compound strength and cardiovascular fitness.
  5. Focus on movement quality for exercises like the squat, step-lunge, hinge, and jump and land, since movement quality improves functional strength, enhances performance and reduces injury.

To learn more, read the recommendations and reasons behind each point in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2019; doi:10.1136/bjsports-2018-099616).

Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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