Hamstring Injuries - How they occur & how to Treat them!
Hamstring injuries are very common amongst athletes of all sports. It can affect profession athletes, amateur GAA players and even Runners, cyclists, soccer players and many more. The function of the hamstring muscle group is to bend the knee and extend the hip joint backwards. It is injured when the hamstring muscles are overloaded with a forceful contraction that it cannot withstand leading to a stressing of the hamstring muscle fibres in the form of tear or strain.
This injury occurs during explosive activities like sprinting and jumping. Hamstring injuries are rated in 3 categories, a Grade 1 sprain is a simple stressing to the fibres, Grade 2 tear is a partial to the muscle, and Grade 3 tear is a complete rupture to the muscle. Potential causes of hamstring injuries include, deficits in strength between opposite legs, poor flexibility, hamstring muscle strength is less than 90% of the tensile strength of the quadriceps muscles, poor posture and finally an uneven pelvic.
Signs & Symptoms
Sudden onset of a dart of pain occurring during an explosive run
Hamstring feels like it has cramped
A pop can be heard if there is a rupture to the muscle
Pain aggravated on attempting to bend knee against
In severely torn hamstring, bruising can be noted along the skin
The player is unable to continue playing on after straining or tearing his hamstring.
Treatment & Management of Hamstring Injury
After injuring your Hamstring the first port of call is implementing the RICE protocol of Rest, Icing, and Compression & Elevation for the first 3 to 5 days post injury. The next phase involves the Physical Therapist treating the muscles with manual techniques in order to break down scar tissue and lengthen the tightened fibres of the hamstring muscles. Attaining range of motion is the first goal of treatment so light stretch exercises with the aid of a bath towel are essential. Once full range of motion has been attained, graded strengthening exercises need to be introduced to slowly rebuild the strength in the hamstring muscles. Finally, remember that in order for an athlete to return to playing sport they must have successfully reached the stage where the hamstring muscles can cope with heavy loading, such s the as the ability to completed multiple sets of single leg squat.
Next week I will be discussing injury to the Achilles tendon, a painful injury to the heel of the foot.
Tomás Ryan is a Registered Physical Therapist with The Irish Association of Physical Therapy and is based in Thurles.
Contact Number: 086 3275 753
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