Stretching for hamstring injuries

Tags: treatment, self-treatment, strain, stretch, injury, pain problems, muscle, exercise

Two articles on PainSci cite Malliaropoulos 2004: 1. Quite a Stretch2. The Complete Guide to Muscle Strains

PainSci summary of Malliaropoulos 2004: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

About 40 strained Greek athletes who stretched more intensively recovered faster than those who stretched more lackadaisically. How much faster?

They regained their range of motion about 22% sooner (5.6 days instead of 7.3), and their “rehabilitation period” was about 12% shorter (13.3 days instead of 15 days). The researchers reported that this was of “great importance in treating muscle strain injuries.” I’m not quite so thrilled by those numbers: getting back in the game about 36-hours sooner is not nothing, but I wouldn’t call it greatly important. It’s also probably the only study of its kind, and I don’t have much confidence in it (nor any specific reason to doubt it).

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

INTRODUCTION: For years, stretching has been an integral part of fitness, practice, and rehabilitation programs to decrease muscle stiffness and relieve pain associated with it. The increased joint range of motion (ROM), indicating the degree of muscle flexibility, has a benefit of stretching proven for healthy tissues.

PURPOSE: The objective of our study was the assessment of the effects of stretching in the rehabilitation of hamstring injuries.

METHODS: We followed up 80 Greek athletes, of average age 20.5 yr, with "second-degree" strain of the hamstring muscles. The athletes were divided into two groups, A and B. For both groups, we estimated the time required for the rehabilitation of the decreased knee ROM and the total time before the athletes could return to a full training program.

RESULTS: Group B, which carried out a more intensive stretching program, was found to have a statistically significant shorter time of regaining normal ROM (5.57 +/- 0.71 d) and rehabilitation period (13.27 +/- 0.71 d) in comparison with group A (7.32 +/- 0.525 d and 15.05 +/- 0.81 d, respectively).

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that stretching is of great importance in treating muscle strain injuries in that it improves the effectiveness of the rest rehabilitation program.

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