A hamstring strain is an injury of the hamstrings muscle group. Hamstring strains are very common in sports that require sprinting or jumping. Hamstring strains can be indicative of many different conditions e.g. poor core stability.
There are two common presentations of hamstring injuries:
- The first is when the subject either stretches to far, lunging for the ball in football or at the end of a follow through for a kick as in football.
- The second is from sprinting where the force transmitted through the hamstring is greater than the muscle can handle.
There are many causes of hamstring injuries:
- Weakness of the hamstring.
- Muscle imbalance between the hamstrings and quadriceps.
- Poor flexibility of the hamstrings.
- Sudden increase in training volume.
- Poor core stability.
- Post lower back injury.
Many of these causes can occur together e.g. if the core is weak or the glutes, psoas are weak, then the hamstrings and adductors can be recruited to stabilise the spine. The hamstring muscle group consists predominantly of fast twitch muscle fibres therefore are vulnerable to fatigue when required to work constantly as stabilisers. Then when faced with a sudden increase in training, sprinting give way to a strain.
Common symptoms include:
- A sharp pain in the back of the thigh.
- A twinge that appears to tighten the more you exercise or a tear which prevents you from running.
- Decreased flexibility of the hamstring the next day.
- Aggravation with resisted cotractions.
- Care should be taken that the pain you are feeling in your hamstring is not actually being referred from other structures such as your lumbar spine.
Treatment for hamstring strains now days have been moving away from the tradition forumulaic stretch and massage protocol many therapists have been using for years. Because of the possible multifaceted nature of the causes of hamstring strains, it is important to:
- Assess and the core stability if needed.
- Joint mobilisations for the surrounding structures.
- Stretches for the hamstrings and surrounding structures.
- Proprioceptive awareness of the body.
- Education technique.