The hamstring is a very common sporting injury. Unknown to some the hamstring is made up of 3 muscles which are the
These muscles start from the bottom of the pelvis (Ischial tuberosity) and they travel down the back of the leg and extend over the knee joint.
The hamstring muscles help flex (bend) the knee and take the leg backwards into extension as well as also helping to rotate the knee.
Hamstring injuries are one of the most common injuries I come across. Especially during pre season with sports such as football, rugby and hockey. They are typically less common in young children, but as children get older and reach their teenage years they become more likely to suffer from a muscle strain type injury.
There are several reasons you may suffer from a hamstring issue. These can include
muscle overload, a poor warm up, weak muscles and muscular imbalances.
People sometimes refer to hamstring injuries as strains, pulls or tears. Muscle overload is the most common way to ‘pull’ your hamstring and this is where you stretch the muscle beyond its capabilities, sometimes under load and the muscle becomes torn.
A grade 1 strain would mean damage to a few muscle fibres and often will result in little or no swelling and have a slight ache or pull through the muscle.
Recovery time can be 1-3 weeks
A grade 2 strain would mean damage to more of the muscle fibres and you may get a shape pain in the muscle particularly below your glutes. Some people say they feel like they have strain a ‘bum cheek’. This can be sore to touch and movement can become restricted. Bruising may follow sometimes after several days. This can take 1-2 months to recover from.
A grade 3 strain is a complete rupture of the muscle itself. Symptoms are often similar to those of Grade 2 but more painful. You may see a bulge in the muscle where it has detached and this can require surgery to repair. Someone once described this as how they imagined getting shot would feel like?! Depending on how good your rehab routine is this can take between 3-6 months to recover from.
Here are a few ways to help prevent hamstring injuries
A good warm is the right place to start. You need to prepare your muscles for the task at hand! This can include a mixture of foam rolling, stretching and specific movement based exercises.
A good warm down after your match or activity is important also and will aid recovery and can prevent cramping.
Compression shorts/leggings Im a massive fan of these and I always wear them when participating in sport. These help retain warmth within the muscle and also can help mentally as well! Just remember to wear the same colour as your team shorts if using them for competitive sport.
Hydration – Make sure you stay hydrated as this will prevent cramps and muscle tightness which can lead to tears.
Particularly in teenagers you can include hamstring strength training into a gym or home routine. Especially during the pre season. This will help prevent muscle weakness and also muscle overload as your muscles will become more accustomed to the demands placed upon them. Train your hamstrings through a full range of motion as this will also strengthen them throughout those end ranges where you’re more likely to succumb the dreaded hamstring tear.
I have included 2 videos. One is of my favourite ways to self massage/treat a hamstring as it seems to be the one area most people really struggle with.
The second is how I like to stretch them out.
If anyone would like any specific exercises you’re welcome to send me an email or message via this page and I will see what I can do!
The author of this article is Richard Knight and he runs a sports injury clinic based in Soham, Cambridgeshire.
If you have any questions you’re welcome to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or even check out his facebook page www.facebook.com/richknightperformance which is full of useful self help videos which can be used by you and your family alike.