At a Glance –
Player: Christian McCaffrey
Position: Running back
Team: Carolina Panthers
Injury: Hamstring Strain
Projected Recovery Time: 2-8 weeks
Hamstring strains are already too common this 2021 season, and the latest victim to this injury is a key player on the Carolina Panthers (and probably your Fantasy League’s #1 draft pick). Christian McCaffrey, known as one of the best running backs in the league, left the game against Houston on Thursday during the third quarter. After being evaluated in the injury tent McCaffrey ended up heading to the locker room for the remainder of the game and left the fate of the Panthers in his teammates’ hands. Luckily, the Panthers got the win, but on the down side, it has been confirmed that McCaffrey sustained a hamstring strain and it’s unknown at this point when McCaffrey will return. Hamstring strains tend to be very nagging injuries, however recent reports confirm that McCaffrey’s strain is likely low-grade and not as severe as originally thought and he is expected to return sooner rather than later. Low-grade strains are classified as mild, with minor damage to individual muscle fibers but preservation of the muscle as a whole. Strength and flexibility may be impacted but minimally, whereas with higher grade strains, you can expect to have significant loss of function.
Regardless of the severity, hamstring strains have high recurrence rates, meaning that re-injury is likely. McCaffrey’s ability to return, especially without having a re-aggravation of that injury, will be largely dependent on his work with his physical therapy team. McCaffrey’s treatment plan will focus on addressing strength and flexibility impairments so he can return to sport with minimal risk of re-injury, and manual therapy and other modalities will be used to improve pain level so he can make a quicker return. Emphasis of his program will be on improving eccentric hamstring strength, which is essential for his position as a running back. CMC is sprinting during the majority of his time on the field, and running requires a LOT of eccentric hamstring strength as your hamstring is used to control your leg as you swing it forward. The recovering hamstring muscle will be put to the test constantly during McCaffrey’s routes and carries so it is crucial for him to work with his rehab team to avoid being sidelined by this injury again. Typical exercises to “bulletproof” the hamstrings include hamstring bridges, hamstring curls, and nordic leg curls. CMC may be able to return as early as this week to football, but he is going to continue rehabbing that hamstring for the remainder of the season. Hopefully he’s back sooner rather than later – the 3-0 Panthers seem to be on a run!
To see what CMS’s rehab might include, take a look at this video to see the team demonstrate a few exercises that would be included in both early stage and late stage rehab for a hamstring injury.