What Are Hamstrings?

Prior to know about the hamstring strain injury, we should learn what exactly hamstring is and why is it important. Hamstrings also known as tendons are strong bands of tissue located right at the back of your thighs, linking the large thigh muscle to our bone.

Another definition of “hamstring” is: a group of 3 muscles located between the areas of hip to the knee at the backside of your thigh.  We do not tend to use these muscles a lot while we are standing or walking, rather they are used during activities such as running, jumping or climbing when we have to bend the knee.

What Causes Hamstring Strain Injuries?

A hamstring strain injury are usually caused when the hamstring muscles are excessively stretched.

They happen during abrupt, volatile movements, such as jumping, lunging or long running. However they can also occur in slow and gradual motions that tend to overstretch your muscles.

Recurring injury is common in athletes and sportsmen, as you’re more likely to injure your hamstring if you’ve injured it before.

Consistently doing your exercises like stretching and warm-up can drastically reduce the risk of hamstring strain injuries.

How do I know If I’ve A Hamstring Strain Injury

There are commonly there stages of hamstring strain injuries ranging from mild to partial and severe.  Mild hamstring strain injuries which is stage one, will usually starts pain abruptly and causes soreness at the back of the thigh. It can make moving your leg quite painful however the strength of the muscle is not much affected.

The second stage is referred to as partial hamstring strain injury. It is often more painful and tender. The symptoms might include bruising or swelling at the back of your thigh and it may also lead to lack of strength in the leg.

Severe hamstring strain injury which is stage three is critical as it leads to intense pain. In this case you won’t be able to use the affected leg at all.

The hamstring strain injury is one of the most common injuries accounting for 21% of GAA players, 12% of soccer players and 15% of Australian Rules players’ injuries.

There are two mechanisms of injury – stretch type and acceleration type injury – and depending on which one, can affect a different part of the hamstring. The further up the hamstring the pain is, the longer it will take to recover. 

The biggest risk factors are previous hamstring injury, decreased eccentric strength and fatigue levels. Other risk factors include age and playing position. For example, GAA players that play midfield or in the backs or are aged 18-20 or over 30, are at a higher risk of hamstring strains. 

Despite more and more being researched on the topic, the rate of hamstring injuries are increasing. Just take a look at the Premier League where the rate of injury has increased 4% annually since 2001. In the GAA hamstring strain injuries have increased two-fold over an 8 year period. Why is this? Some reasons may be due to the increased number of matches and training sessions and less recovery time.

Prevention in better than the cure so how do we best reduce the risk of these?

Some simple measures are to ensure you gradually and progressively increase the load across the hamstrings, ensure you are doing appropriate strengthening exercises so that they are “long and strong” and allowing enough recovery between sessions.

If you want an individualised approach to the management of your hamstring injury book in with us.