Hamstring injuries are one of the most common injuries among footballers and netballers.
Hamstring strains have a tendency to heal slowly, so they can result in significant loss of on-field time for many Geelong athletes. Once an injury occurs there is a high risk recurrence, especially without proper rest, treatment and rehabilitation.
Muscles are made from bundles of smaller fibres or strands. A strain occurs when a small number of these fibres are overstretched beyond their capacity and begin to fail or tear. This leads to pain, bleeding and inflammation within the muscle. Strains can occur rapidly (the classic grab in the back of the thigh) or gradually (which tends to result in gradual tightness and pain over a periods of days or weeks that is not relieved by stretching)
The hamstring group is made up of 3 muscles of the back of the thigh: (semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris). These muscles act to bend the knee and also to extend the hip. This is a vital muscle group for athletes who run, jump and kick.
What are some of the symptoms or signs that you may have a hamstring strain?
- Pain is usually the first and most obvious symptom
- Bruising or discolouration of the skin resulting from bleeding from the injury
- Tenderness over the site of injury
- Palpable mass: swelling in the local area which can sometimes be felt as a ‘lump’ in the muscles
- Reduced strength (due to pain) and muscle stiffness.
What are the most common causes of hamstring strains?
- Inadequate endurance and or strength
- Poor flexibility
- Inadequate core stability
- Insufficient warm-up
- Overload and muscle fatigue
- Poor running and kicking technique
What can you do in the first 48 hours?
- stop activity
- Compression and Elevation
Most of the treatment is aimed toward decreasing the inflammation and maintaining range of motion.
Most soft tissue injuries take a few weeks to heal, depending on the severity of the strain.
A health care professional such as a Myotherapist can perform manual techniques such as massage, taping, dry-needling and mobilisation to promote healing, strength and flexibility.
Once the initial phase of healing begins and the inflammation and pain subsides, a myotherapist will begin developing a rehabilitation program to help maintain flexibility, as well as strengthen the damaged tissue with the goal to return to normal sporting activities as soon as possible. Strengthening is an essential component of rehabilitating hamstring injuries and requires ongoing supervision with exercise progression a key element to any program.
The rehabilitation phase can last between 1 week, for minor strains, up to 3-4 weeks for moderate strains and longer for more severe injuries. A myotherapist can provide ongoing treatment and supervision during a program designed to return to sport as quickly and safely as possible.