Hamstring injuries are all too common in sports – particularly in football and hockey. So luckily Kayla (one of our brilliant physios) is here to give you a run down on hamstring strains so that you can keep running!
The hamstring is located on the back of your thigh. It is made up of three muscles (semi-membranosus, semi-tendinosus and biceps femoris). The muscles attach from your pelvis, to just below the knee. Contraction of the hamstring allows you to bend your knee and extend your hip back.
Hamstring strains are a common injury in sports involving high speed acceleration, however they can also occur in activities such as dancing and water-skiing, where the muscle is placed in a position of extreme stretch.
The time off sport, due to a hamstring injury, depends on the grade, severity and location of the strain but is generally up to 4 weeks. Your health professional will work with you to determine a suitable rehab programme and graduated return to activity.
Signs and symptoms
Sudden onset thigh pain during a specific activity (such as running)
Pain in the back of the thigh when sitting, walking, running
Tenderness on palpation of hamstrings
Pain on contraction of hamstrings (bending knee or extend hip)
Pain on lengthening of hamstrings (straighten knee or bend hip)
+/- audible pop
The treatment for hamstring injuries varies depending on the grade/severity of the strain (Grade 1 – mild strain, Grade 3 – complete tear) but always, immediate treatment should consist of RICE – rest, ice, compression and elevation
As pain decreases gentle manual therapy, exercises and stretching can begin. Health professionals, such as a physiotherapist, will help guide this treatment and will be able to tell you which exercises are the best for you. It is important to seek professional advice before beginning any exercises, in order to prevent the possibility of further damage.
Research shows up to 1/3 of hamstring injuries can recur without full rehabilitation prior to return to sport, so it is important to follow the treatment plan your health professional outlines, and complete all exercises given until you are 100%
Prevention (much better than treating an injury!)
Strategies to help prevent a hamstring strain can include:
Strengthen the hamstrings, quads (front of thigh) and core muscles
Stretch hamstrings prior to and following activity
Training – adequate training, with gradual increase prior to activity