Hamstring strains are an indirect hamstring injury very common in sports involving jumping and sprinting. They are a very common injury and have an extremely high recurrence rate of 12-31%.
The hamstring consists of 3 large muscles making up the posterior thigh. They attach to both your hip and knee therefore working to bend your knee and also extending the hip.
They have a very important role in walking and running as well muscle actions in sport such as jumping and kicking. They are therefore injured performing these movements, either being damaged when sprinting during the late swing phase or over stretched when kicking or jumping.
There are many different factors that can cause the hamstring being increasingly prone to injury:
Signs and symptoms
Hamstring strains are broken into grades, ranging from a small amount of fibres torn to a complete tear of the muscle. The higher the grade the more pain and weakness.
Pain usually occurs suddenly during exercise and can lead to:
First 48- 72 hours
RICER (rest, ice, compression, elevation and referral) and no HARM (no heat, alcohol, heat and massage) protocol for the first 48-72 hours. This will allow reduction of pain, bruising and swelling and encourage healing to the injured tissue. Gentle movements can begin once pain free walking is achieved
To ensure a quicker return to sport and reduce the likelihood of re-injury then an individualised program should be commenced shortly after the injury has been sustained.
A program should consist of a graduated strengthening program which is targeting the goals and needs of the patient. Manual therapy can also be used effectively to alleviate pain and promote movement.
Return to sport is possible once full strength and flexibility hais returned as well as ability to complete the functional movements of the sport e.g. sprinting or jumping
Tom Gilbert is physiotherapist who has an extensive background in sport. He is currently the Physiotherapist for the Youth Australian Men's Water Polo team, is the Head Physiotherapist for St Ives Rugby Seniors and runs the Youth Strengthening classes for St Ives Physiotherapy