The hamstrings are tendons at the back of the thighs that attach the large muscle of the thigh to the bone. The hamstring muscles are activated during activities that involve bending the knee, such as running, jumping and climbing.
Hamstring strains are caused by the sudden over – extension of a tight hamstring whether at the hip or knee with over – striding or sprinting.
This muscle group should be carefully stretched before any sport, especially prior to sprinting or running as a hamstring is one of the flexor muscle groups and hence a muscle group prone to shortening.
It is possible for a muscle or a tendon of this muscle group to be damaged at any part along its length, giving rise to a strain or tear to the tendons or large muscles at the back of the thigh.
This type of injury is common in athletes. The three grades of hamstring injury are:
- grade 1 – a mild muscle pull or strain
- grade 2 – a partial muscle tear
- grade 3 – a complete muscle tear
There is normally swelling associated with a hamstring strain and bruising if the fibers of the hamstring have been ruptured, pain will be at the site of hamstring injury commonly around mid thigh or deep into the buttocks.
Should initially involve applying ice directly to the injured area to reduce swelling and inflammation, after the acute stage of injury applying heat, ultrasound and massage to help stimulate healing, it will be necessary to see a Physiotherapist who will advise on exercises and gentle stretching.
During the initial stages of treatment, it is advisable to change your running style to avoid sprinting, over-striding and running downhill.
Wearing Orthotics for those patients that present with recurrent hamstring strains will be designed to address any underlying skeletal pelvic imbalance that induces the strain.