Preventive Effects of Eccentric Training on Acute Hamstring Muscle Injury in Professional Baseball

Background:Hamstring injuries are the second most common injury causing missed days in professional baseball field players.Recent studies have shown the preventive benefit of eccentric conditioning on the hamstring muscle group in injury prevention.Specifically, Nordic-type exercises have been shown to decrease the incidence of acute hamstring injuries in professional athletes.

Purpose:This was a prospective study performed in coordination with a single Major League Baseball (MLB) organization (major and minor league teams) that targeted the effects of Nordic exercises on the incidence of acute hamstring injuries in the professional-level baseball player.

Study Design:Prospective cohort study; Level of evidence, 2.

Methods:The daily workouts of 283 professional baseball players throughout all levels of a single MLB organization were prospectively recorded. The intervention group participated in the Nordic exercise program and was compared with a randomly selected control group of professional athletes within the organization not participating in the exercise program. The incidence of hamstring injuries in both groups was compared, and the total number of days missed due to injury was compared with the2 previous seasons.

Results:There were 10 hamstring injuries that occurred during the 2012 season among the 283 professional athletes that required removal from play. There were no injuries that occurred in the intervention group (n¼65, 0.00%;P¼.0381). The number needed to treat (NNT) to prevent 1 hamstring injury was 11.3. The average repetitions per week of the injured group were assessed at multiple time points (2, 4, 6, and total weeks) prior to injury. There were significantly fewer repetitions per week performed in the injured group at all time points compared with overall average repetitions per week in the non injured group (P¼.0459, .0127, .0164, and.0299, respectively). After beginning the Nordic exercise program, there were 136 total days missed due to a hamstring injury during the 2012 season. This number was less than the 2011 season (273 days missed) and the 2010 season (309 days missed).

Conclusion:Study results indicate the initiation of Nordic hamstring exercises may decrease the incidence of acute hamstring injuries and potentially decrease the total number of days missed due to injury in professional baseball players.

Clinical Relevance:The financial and competitive interest in professional baseball players is of large importance to the player, team, and fans. Prevention of injuries is as important to all parties involved as the treatment and rehabilitation following an injury.This prospective study shows the initiation of a simple, free exercise can reduce the incidence of hamstring injury in the professional-level baseball player.

Keywords:hamstring injury; injury prevention; professional-level athlete; baseball