Recovering from a hamstring injury? Should your rehabilitation exercises be painfree or not? Recent research suggests it doesn’t need to be!
43 participants (between 18-40 years old was included) were split into 2 groups. Both groups received the same rehabilitation protocol combining a progressive strengthening program and a progressive running regime done twice per week. The only difference is while during rehabilitation, Group A had to be pain-free while Group B can experience 4 or less out of 10 pain (numerical rating scale 0 = no pain, 10 extremely painful)
- Return to sports: There was no significant difference in the length of time before the players could return to play between the 2 groups
- Knee Flexor strength: Group B had significantly had 15% greater improvement in strength compared to the pain-free Group A at 2 months follow-up
- Hamstring length: Group B also had significant greater muscle length at 2 months follow-up compared to Group A.
- Six months Re-injury follow-up: No difference between the two groups.
Conclusion: This study highlights during hamstring rehabilitation participants can experience minor pain and have better outcomes in strength and hamstring length compared to a pain-free rehabilitation.
Reference: Hickey et al. (2020) Pain-free versus pain-threshold rehabilitation following acute hamstring strain injury: A randomized controlled trial