Physical Therapists Help Los Angeles Angels Baseball Team Reduce Hamstring Injuries

Vocativ: “Hamstring injuries in Major League Baseball this season were at their highest rate since at least 1998, according to data compiled by Conte Injury Analytics. Such injuries accounted for 53 uses of the disabled list in 2016, compared to an average of 34.5 per year—and those statistics undersell frequency because the DL isn’t invoked for all injuries—yet some progress is being made to curb the increase.”

The piece continues: “The physical therapists leading the study, Holly Silvers-Granelli and James Zachazewski, devised a hamstring injury prevention program incorporating elements from European soccer that emphasized eccentric exercises—which pertain to the lengthening of a muscle, as opposed to the more common meaning of ‘eccentric.’ They also incorporated lumbo-pelvic stability elements, range-of-motion stretches, and concentric (muscle shortening) hamstring exercises. Some of the program is completed as part of one’s normal workout routine, and some activities are done in the dugout prior to entering the on-deck circle.”

“The therapists made a series of presentations to baseball clubs, but only the Angels adopted the regimen. The team had a 25 percent reduction in the occurrence of hamstring injuries by players on their 40-man major league roster in the first two years of its use, including zero DL stints in 2015. The gains were more pronounced in the days lost due to injury: nine days on average, compared to 26 in the rest of the league, a 65 percent improvement. (They had two big leaguers land on the DL in 2016—infielder Cliff Pennington, twice, and reliever Joe Smith—which both occurred after the study period.) All of the Angels’ minor league affiliates also implemented the prevention program and had a 45 percent reduction.”

A research abstract can be found here.