RESEARCH REVIEW: Hamstring Injuries in Baseball
I was unsure if there was really an “epidemic” when it comes to hamstring injuries in baseball. Obviously, the REAL epidemic is with the amount of Tommy John surgeries that are being performed.
So, I did some research!
All baseball players, young and older, pitcher and position player, need healthy hamstrings to perform at high levels. Performance comes from the backside of the body.
According to this epidemiological study, incidence of hamstring strains has not been reported in the MLB.
During the 2011 season, the researchers collected the date of injury, activity at the time of the injury, and time lost from the injury.
Injury rates were calculated as injuries per athlete-exposure. These exposures could either be from practice or competitive play.
In the year 2011 in the MLB, 50 hamstring strains were reported with an injury rate of 0.7 per 1000 athlete-exposures. Within this injury rate, an average of 24 days were missed from competitive play.
What I find really alarming was that 218 hamstring strains were reported in minor league baseball.
The top activity for hamstring strain was running to first base, with almost two-thirds of the injuries occurring from this one activity alone.
Another statistic that the researchers found was the 20% of the Major League players had previous hamstring strains.
From an added source (MLB.com), there were 31 DL designations from hamstring injuries. What does this tell us about training?
This is a seasonal effect. It is important to understand that competitive play happens in the Absolute Speed end of the Strength-Speed Continuum.
As we move closer to the season, it is our job as strength coaches and fitness professionals to make sure our athletes have developed the work capacity to endure the amount of sprinting they will be doing during the season.
From my previous article, I noted that if your hamstrings act as your primary hip extensor in comparison to your glutes, there is an issue.
Constant rotation to one side over, and over again, muscles surrounding the hip/pelvis will shorten up as a protective mechanism.
According to this gathered research (so far), I think they best thing to prevent hamstring injuries are as follows:
- Train the hamstrings eccentrically – meaning, getting strong in the fully lengthened position
- Train the hamstrings explosively, when appropriate – this can be utilized with some exercises in the gym, but sprinting is the most specific for this adaptation
- Train the hamstrings in all 3 planes of motion – 3 muscles, 3 jobs
- Movement, then Strength – rotational athletes will lose hip and trunk mobility on one side of the body due to the asymmetrical nature of the sport