ACU expert involved in $4m NFL-funded study to prevent hamstring injuries

Leading ACU hamstring expert David Opar will be involved in a $4 million National Football League (NFL) funded study that will investigate the prevention and treatment of hamstring injuries.

Hamstring injuries are the most common NFL injury with nearly 75 per cent of such injuries resulting in missed time.

The NFL’s Scientific Advisory Board this week announced the four-year, US$4 million grant to a team of medical researchers, led by the University of Wisconsin, to investigate the prevention and treatment of hamstring injuries for elite football players.

Dr Opar, director of ACU’s Sports Performance, Recovery, Injury and New Technologies Research Centre (SPRINT) will work with the University of Wisconsin’s Professor Bryan Heiderscheit and Professor Silvia Blemker, co-founder of Springbok Analytics on the study.

The findings will better understand the risk of first time and recurrent hamstring injuries in collegiate American Football players.

“This project will allow us to study which factors lead to an increased risk of hamstring injury and, more importantly, what increases the likelihood of recurrent injury,” Dr Opar said.

“We are able to do this because of the size and scale of this multi-year and multi-institution collaboration. Whilst this work will be conducted in a cohort of collegiate American Football athletes, the findings are likely to have benefits for any sport globally where hamstring injuries are a problem.”

Study lead Professor Bryan Heiderscheit said the persistent symptoms, slow healing, and a high rate of re-injury make hamstring strains a frustrating and disabling injury for athletes and a challenge for sport medicine clinicians to treat.

“To truly understand and reduce hamstring injury risk requires a study of an unprecedented size and scope… our multi-disciplinary team of researchers can now undertake an innovative, data-driven approach to this study, and assist sports medicine clinicians in advancing strategies for injury prevention and interventions to return athletes to sport quickly and with reduced risk for re-injury,” he said.

The NFL’s chief medical officer Dr Allen Sills said the league had recognised the significant burden hamstring injuries had on its elite athletes.

“We're hopeful that this funding will enable them to develop scientifically-based strategies that will advance the health and safety of our players in the years to come.”

Dr Opar and his team are internationally known for their work in hamstring rehabilitation and have worked with numerous elite athletes. More recently, they have been credited for Manly star Tom Trbojevic’s spectacular return to form.

The Manly fullback travelled to Melbourne in pre-season to meet with Dr Opar and his team at ACU for guidance around training practices that would help to mitigate his risk of hamstring injury for the current season.

Media Contact: Elisabeth Tarica, Australian Catholic University on 0418 756 941 or

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