Injuries are the part and parcel of any sport, whether it is played on court, pitch, mat or field. Where hamstring injuries are being commonest concern of the athletes (Burkett, 1970). Several studies (Malliaropoulos et al., 2011; Junge et al., 2009) suggest that injuries to the hamstring muscle are popular amongst the track and field athletes. Recent evidence in sport highlight that hamstring strain injuries occurs in a non-contact sport especially while sprinting, jumping and kicking and men are more prone to hamstring strain injury as compared to females (Opar et al., 2014; Dalton et al., 2015). Hamstring injury occur when the muscle is potentially loaded to stress that is during eccentric activity when muscle develops tension while lengthening at the same time (kujala, 1997) which typically occurs in high velocity sports activity when the hip joint is in flexion and the knee joint is in extension leading to lengthening of hamstring muscle on both the articular surfaces.
In modern athletics steeplechase race is 3000 meters sprinting event which consists of 7 laps, 28 barriers or hurdles, along with 7 water jumps. Each lap consists of 4 obstacles and one water jump, the height of the obstacle is 36 inches for men and 30 inches for women where the length of water pit is 3.66 meters. The format of this race is demanding in terms of endurance as participant must run for 3000 meters along with jumping several hurdles and maintain balance after every jump in a water pit. So, over all steeplechase race is an exhausting track and field event where the athlete has to maintain the running speed while clearing the barrier safely (Papov, 1983). Though effects of eccentric exercises in case of acute hamstring injuries were studied in other sports as well as in sprinting and track and field, but paucity of studies was observed for specific population of steeplechase runners.
Commonly followed strategies in acute hamstring injuries in various sports are eccentric exercises, concentric exercises and combination of both along with agility, strength and flexibility where the number of studies (Schmitt et al., 2012; Malliaropoulos et al., 2012; Askling et al., 2014; Sugiura et al., 2017) found that specific protocol has value in rehabilitation, prevention of new injuries and reinjuries of for acute hamstring injury as compared. So, to compare L-protocol which is explicitly emphasize on lengthening hamstring while eccentrical muscle action with C-protocol i.e. conventional exercises which has less focus on lengthening of hamstrings in sports population. However similar study has not been performed in steeplechase runners.
The research question will be “what is the effect of Specific rehabilitation protocol on acute hamstring injuries in elite steeplechase athletes?”
I have based this question within positivist paradigm as a researcher positivism will help me explore clarifying major practical problems, unearth precise causal relationships which reveals the fact, explore generalizations, using statistical analysis (Howlett, Rogo and Shelton 2014). Using positivist approach, I will be able to analyse the effect of specific rehabilitation protocol i.e. L-protocol over C-protocol which will aid me to reach towards my hypothesis (Askling et al., 2014). The return to sport of an injured athlete depends on the causal relationship which will help in revealing the fact that which protocol is effective this will be
answered at the end of study using the Askling H-test to determine that whether the athlete is ready to return to the sport or not (Askling et al., 2014). Taking the above statements into consideration positivist approach allows me to apply quantitative method to analyse the statistical value for number of days taken by an athlete to return to sport in both groups to verify the hypotheses and establish fact and about the effective intervention (Denzin et al., 1994).
An interpretivist would argue that objective analysis is impractical as researches his or her own views which are subjective in nature are important is a research, so they disagree the knowledge to be objective but as a positivist I would disagree commenting on one’s condition for example it is difficult to say whether the athlete is ready to return to sport just by interviewing him, but it is valid if as a researcher you possess statistical objective values (Grix, 2010). Qualitative study allows you to investigate own experience of an individual which will help reveal one’s own feelings towards the event (Howlett, Rogo and Shelton 2014) this could be implied by using questionnaire such as psychological readiness to return to sport questionnaire followed by rehabilitation of an injury (Ardern et al., 2014) findings which will lead to the readiness of an athlete to return to sport but this cannot be implied in current study as I am seeking which protocol is effective for an athlete to return to sport. Positivists suggest that the outer world is real and not socially created or conveyed by our feelings, there is no discrepancy between what appears and the reality (Grix, 2010) so ones feelings towards reality is unaccepted by positivist. As well as interpretivist would insist that researchers are inseparable part of social phenomenon being researched i.e. they are involved with the subjects throughout the research process they are studying, as social reality do not exist independently of our interpretations of them, and it is these interpretations which affect the outcomes (Grix, 2010) but this may lead to bias and researcher could easily influence results towards desired answer (Johnson and Onwuegbuzie , 2014) however as a positivist I will be maintaining the integrity and objectivity of research by not getting involved with the participants as a researcher (Saks, Mike and Allsop, 2008).
Pragmatist will argue that framing the research question into mixed method will allow me to answer the question by combining both qualitative and quantitative findings. Mix method research aids in answering the vast and variety of research questions without sticking to a single approach i.e. either qualitative or quantitative (Johnson and Onwuegbuzie, 2004). So, based on current question interaction and opinion of athlete on his confidence and ability to return to sport as qualitative outcome as well as using Askling H-test to evaluate patients level of recovery as a quantitative measure. But as the mixed method research may lead to loss of generalisability of the study due to its subjective approach (Smith, 2012; Saks, 2013; Johnson, 2014;). Along with that some aspects of mixed method study are still to be explored such as paradigm mixing, interpreting conflicting results (Johnson and Onwuegbuzie, 2004)
So, positivist approach leads me to selection of appropriate methodology by eliminating errors such as risk of bias (interpretivist approach, qualitative research) and chances of losing generalisation (pragmatist approach, mix method research) for proposed research question.
Though multiple researches were carried out to investigate effective protocol in acute injuries and rehabilitation of athletes in various sports, but paucity of studies was observed in studying steeplechase runner even though the game format is very demanding and more prone to hamstring muscle strains, so this leads to the need of exploring best possible protocol in rehabilitation of acute hamstring strains. As a positivist my positionality allows me to explore the answer in objective findings. In spite of the fact purists will argue that one cannot study the ability of an individual to return to sports objectively and insist to imply interview or questionnaire to assess one’s readiness to return to sport but as a positivist I will be able to put forth more firm results based on objective values of athletes return to sport using Askling H-test and will be able to comment on the Ideal protocol for hamstring injury rehabilitation. As well as I will be able bypass potential threat of losing generalisation by selecting positivism as paradigm for my research question by using quantitative method and will be able to imply on large sample size and achieve solid evidence to prove my results.
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