Introduction Sprint running mechanics are thought to be a risk factor for Hamstring Strain Injuries (HSI). However, there is limited evidence to support this association, which may be explained by the lack of in-field assessment methods to evaluate sprint running mechanics.
This study aimed to investigate whether a new qualitative screening tool, the Sprint Mechanics Assessment Score (S-MAS), can identify differences in running mechanics between players who have sustained a HSI in the last 12 months (Prior HSI), those prospectively sustaining a new HSI, and controls.
Materials and Methods Maximal velocity sprint running videos (240fps) were collected from 79 elite football players (18 female, 61 male) in the English Football League. A blinded assessor scored all videos using the S-MAS (12-point qualitative screening tool for sprint mechanics).
Mann-Whitney U tests were used to compare S-MAS between injured groups (Prior HSI, n=12 and New HSI, n=3) to sex-matched controls (n=41).
Results Mean S-MAS for the Prior HSI group (6.2, SD 1.9) were significantly greater than controls (4.4, SD 2.4) (p <.05, Effect size (ES) = 0.76). Players sustaining a new HSI also displayed greater S-MAS scores compared to controls (mean 6.3, SD 0.6, ES = 0.8), however this was non-significant (p = .187).
Conclusion S-MAS scores are higher in footballers with HSI’s compared to controls, suggesting sub-optimal sprint mechanics are associated with previous and possibly future HSI. The easy-to-use nature of the S-MAS means screening sprint running mechanics can be simply integrated into routine practice, potentially identifying footballers at HSI risk.
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