Most of us have had or know someone who have suffered from the dreaded hamstring injury.
Just last week at training a teammate of mine was pulling away in a sprint for the line when it appeared a sniper took aim from the sideline and took out this athlete out in full flow. He screeched to a halt clutching his hamstring.
Here at Compass Physio Tullyallen and Castlecomer we see a lot of hamstring injuries and know how to get people back to their activity quickly and safely whilst minimising the risk of recurrence.
What are the hamstrings?
The hamstrings are a group of muscles located at the back of the thigh.
They start at the sitting bone, deep to your glutes and attach below your knee.
What do the hamstrings do?
The hamstrings have a couple of key roles
- Bend the knee
- Slow the knee down as it straightens when you are walking/running
- They also help with extending the hip joint
When do we use the hamstrings?
The hamstrings are engaged when we do activities such as walking, running, bending, kicking, lungeing and many more.
They normally work in conjunction with other muscle groups to help control movement.
One of the main roles is to help maintain control around the pelvis, moving it to a position that optimises our movement.
What might i feel before I injure my hamstring?
- Hamstring tightness can be a warning sign before an injury was to occur
- Tightness at the low back/hips/knee and or ankle can increase our risk of hamstring issues.
- A history of recent low back/sciatic pain can increase our risk or hamstring injury if not managed properly
- Nothing. Quite often clients report no issues prior to injury but perhaps have been training a lot and not allowing themselves to recover and also an increase in sitting/commuting can be a factor.
What are the hamstring Injury Types?
Grade 1: A mild strain – few muscle fibres torn. Presents as pain and tenderness at the back of the thigh but on testing of the muscle strength there may only be a small reduction in power
Grade 2: Moderate strain/tear – significant number of fibres torn. More painful and tender. May present with swelling and bruising and also weakness on muscle power testing
Grade 3: Complete tear – this means the muscle has been torn completely. Client may have felt a popping sensation when running and will have pain tenderness++ and bruising along with significantly reduced muscle power.
How to manage my hamstring Injury in the early stages?
P – Protect
O – Optimal
L – Loading
I – ICE
C – ICE
E – ICE
Avoid stretching in the early stages.
As soon as possible you begin a gentle strengthening programme using simple exercises such as
- Hamstring Activation (Squeezing the hamstring in a seated position)
- Bridging (Double Leg) Laying on your back with your knees bent, raising your hips in the air with little or no hamstring pain
Progressing your Rehab:
Under the guidance of a chartered physiotherapist you will be given a graded set of exercises that will allow you to gradually build up your strength and return to your chosen sport
Reducing the Risk of it Happening Again:
Strength is key with hamstrings and evidence shows that eccentric hamstring exercises such as nordic hamstring curls do reduce the risk of re injury
A “Strong” hamstring which is mobile is the ideal scenario.