The hamstrings are a group of muscles; semimembranosus, semitendinosus, biceps femoris, located at the back of the leg from the knee to the pelvis.
Hamstring injury is extremely common in sport and tends to be graded depending on severity:
Grade 1 or mild strain tends to have the involvement of only a few torn muscles
In Grade 2 or moderate strain there will be loss of muscle strength
Grade 3 involves the complete tear of the muscles
The injuries will usually occur at the proximal myotendinous junction.
Hamstring injury is usually sudden and painful and normally during sprinting. Athletes are often seen “pulling up” as a result of such an injury, and a popping noise may be heard.
In the more severe injury swelling and bruising can be associated with the injury and in a complete rupture; the muscle may contract into a ball
Post injury, patients tend to report pain when sitting or walking up stairs.
Inadequate warm up
Previous hamstring injury
Poor running technique e.g. over-striding
Growth spurts in adolescents
Physical examination and injury history tend to be sufficient in determining this injury.
Treatment will be dependent on severity. In mild strains to limit pain, inflammation and swelling the RICE regime will come into play, with tolerated range of motion exercise within 1 to 2 days, while physiotherapy may include strengthening exercises.
Non steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs should be used in the short term as their long term use may delay complete healing
Cortico-steroid injections are often used in professional sport in the acute phase, but caution may be required with regard to long term detrimental effects of such treatments.
More serious injury may require immobilisation in knee extension for up to 5 days when pain free exercise may begin.
Over a period of 6 weeks strengthening and range of motion exercises will be overseen by the physiotherapist, and the severity of the injury will determine the recovery period.
Kinesiology taping has proved very successful in improving range of motion, but should only be applied with the supervision of a therapist, as it may be contraindicated in more severe injuries.
Published: July 8, 2011