The #1 Factor in Ankle and Hamstring Injuries (Hint: it’s the same for both!)
Let’s talk injuries.
With both ankle sprains and hamstring strains having previously had that injury is the number one predictor for having an occurrence of that injury in the future.
Once you have had a certain injury it’s like you’ve proven that you have a talent for doing that injury.
For ankles, (and credit to Dr. Gaylene McKay for this research), a previous ankle sprain makes you five times more likely to have a new ankle roll versus a previously uninjured athlete.
NB: With Gayleen’s research, the second big factor in ankle injury risk was visible air bubbles in your shoe. Which leaves you 4.3 times greater risk. If you land slightly wrong and that air cushions that way in the shoe, it’s going to send you further into your roll, exaggerating the potential to roll that ankle.
Once you’ve done it once though, it’s not all doom and gloom there is a lot you can do to reduce your risk.
For hamstrings, there are three big risk factors.
Number one is a previous hamstring injury.
Number two is age.
(The sad news is, when they say old, they mean over 23 or 24, it’s really depressing.)
Number three is a lack of eccentric Strength.
The really cool thing with hamstring injuries, (this research comes from Opar and Timmins’ group), is that having eccentric hamstring strength over the magic number of 337 newtons as measured on a Nordboard nullifies the effect of age and previous injury on having a new hamstring injury (that means you can be 25 years old and have had a previous hamstring injury, but getting your nordic strength to over 337N brings your risk profile effectively back to baseline.) It’s really powerful stuff.
So no matter what your sport, prevention is always going to be better than a cure. You can do all the rehab in the world, but if you can successfully prevent injuries, you’re going to be better off in both the short and long term.
Also, check out a few of our Random Thoughts discussions on ankle and hamstring injuries: