Sprint performance in football (soccer players with and without a previous hamstring strain injury: An explorative cross-sectional study

International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 15, 947–957. Doi.org/10.26603/ijspt20200947


Hamstring strain injuries are common in many sports. Following a hamstring injury, deficits in peak and explosive strength may persist after return to sport potentially affecting sprint performance. Assessment of repeated-sprint ability is recognized as an important part of the return to sport evaluation after a hamstring injury.Purpose: This purpose of this exploratory cross-sectional study was to compare sprinting performance obtained during a repeated-sprint test between football players with and without a previous hamstring strain injury.

Forty-four fully active sub-elite football players, 11 with a previous hamstring strain injury during the preceding 12 months (cases; mean age, SD: 25.6 ± 4.4) and 33 demographically similar controls (mean age, SD: 23.2 ± 3.7), were included from six clubs. All players underwent a repeated-sprint test, consisting of six 30-meter maximal sprints with 90 seconds of recovery between sprints. Sprint performance was captured using high-speed video-recording and subsequently assessed by a blinded tester to calculate maximal sprint velocity, maximal horizontal force, maximal horizontal power, and mechanical effectiveness.

A significant between-group difference was seen in favor of players having a previous hamstring injury over 6 sprints for maximal velocity (mean difference: 0.457 m/s, 95% CI: 0.059-0.849, p = 0.025) and mechanical effectiveness (mean difference: 0.009, 95% CI: 0.001-0.016, p = 0.020).

Repeated-sprint performance was not impaired in football players with a previous hamstring strain injury; in fact, higher mean maximal sprinting velocity and better mechanical effectiveness were found in players with compared to without a previous hamstring injury. The higher sprinting velocity, which likely increases biomechanical load on the hamstring muscles, in previously injured players may increase the risk of recurrent injuries.

Lasse Ishøi
Lasse Ishøi
Head of Sport and Data Science at Football Club Nordsjælland (a Danish first tier club), and postdoc at Sports Orthopedic Research Center - Copenhagen (SORC-C)

My research interests include sport science, sport physiotherapy, and sport injuries.