How common are hamstring injuries?
I’m Ryan Keats, BSc Sports Therapist at Lushington Chiropractic. I am based in Eastbourne, East Sussex. I have written this blog to share one of the many injuries I have the experience of treating both in elite sports and at our clinic here at Lushington Chiropractic Eastbourne.
A hamstring strain injury (HSI) is a common type of injury I treat. In fact, it is the most common injury in professional football with one in three re injuring the same site within a year. Athletes within football go through comprehensive rehabilitation protocols, this could mean that the current methods of rehabilitation are somewhat inadequate, in any case, I will explain how and why they occur, the treatment and also how to prevent HSI’s.
What are hamstrings?
The hamstrings are a group of knee flexors and hip extensors that consist of three muscles
- The biceps femoris
A hamstring strain is a tear within the hamstring muscle. It can be from a few fibres to a complete rupture. There are 3 grading categories in sport called Grade I, II & III.
- Grade I is a slight tear within the muscle and can be painful but you are still able to walk and bend the knee for example.
- Grade II is a partial tear in which more than a few muscle fibres have been detached, though the hamstring is still intact. It is very painful to walk and you may require crutches.
- Grade III is a complete rupture in which the muscle is completely torn and is not attached. Swelling will appear immediately and there should be immobility.
Hamstring strains are the most common recorded injury from football and other team games because of sudden acceleration, deceleration, change of direction and jumping.
When an individual has been sprinting, both hip flexion and knee extension occur within one stride with maximal tension. Explosive force from a large muscle group such as the quads during take-off, needs hamstrings equally as strong in order to absorb and decelerate the explosive movement of sprint to retract the leg for another stride. A HSI, or “pulled” hamstring, normally occurs when at least one of these muscles mentioned above increases in tension (gets stretched too far) and this can result in muscle failure (strain). During a highly intense sprint, the hamstrings are highly active during the swing stage as they are working eccentrically (contraction whilst muscle lengthening) to slow down the swinging tibia and controlling the extension at the knee. The hamstrings at the stance point are still active due to the concentric (contraction whilst muscle shortening) hip extension.
Treatment for a hamstring injury can be categorized into immediate first aid and long-term treatment, which begins after the initial acute period, has passed.
Immediate first aid consists of the PRICE and will usually last 3 to 4 days depending on severity.
- Principles of protection
A compression bandage or thigh support can be worn to minimize bleeding in the muscle and help control swelling. A professional sports therapist may apply sports massage techniques after the inflammatory stage has passed. After the inflammation period, a sports therapist will prescribe a full rehabilitation program to include stretching, strengthening and functional exercises. Performing foam roller exercises for the hamstrings can massage and apply myofascial release to the muscles. Pressure is applied from just above the knee upwards following the direction of blood flow.
For prevention of a hamstring injury it goes without saying that good warm-up and cool-down routines are imperative. Allow extra warm-up time in colder weather. If you want to avoid any hamstring problems, introduce strengthening exercises to your routine, for example hamstring kicks, squats and lunges. Do not increase intensity, frequency or duration of exercise by more than 10 percent a week. Flexibility exercises also increase the suppleness of hamstrings – yoga is excellent for this. Stop exercising if you feel pain in the back of your legs. Pain is you body’s way of saying ‘this is too much’.
If you would like to know any more information, please don’t hesitate to contact Ryan here at Lushington Chiropractic Eastbourne!
By Ryan Keats
Call now 01323 722499