Around 25% of hamstring injuries are reoccurring. Poor conditioning and lack of strength are often to blame, but there are solutions to keep this from happening again.
One of the most common injuries seen in sport is a hamstring strain. Sports that typically require a lot of quick movements, repeat efforts and power are associated with hamstring strains. In Australia sports such as AFL, Soccer, Basketball, Cricket, Tennis, Rugby and Netball tend to have a large incidence rate of hamstring strains.
The Hamstring is a group of muscles that runs down the back of your leg and allows your leg to bend at the knee. A Hamstring strain usually means one or more of these muscles become overloaded, leading to a strain or a complete tear.
What to look out for
- Snapping, popping or grabbing feeling during exercise or movement
- Sudden or severe pain during exercise
- Pain or tightness when straightening or bending the leg
- Difficult putting weight on affected leg
How do we diagnose a Hamstring strain?
When diagnosing a hamstring strain, it is important to understand the grades in which the strains are categorised into.
Grade 1: Mild muscle strain, accompanied by some tightness, but still able to walk normally. Exercising, running and playing sport at full speed will be uncomfortable and can lead to further damage. Typically it is a recovery period of 1-3 weeks
Grade 2: Partial muscle tear, painful at time of injury and sharp pain will be present when trying to move the leg. Swelling and bruising is not unusual and a limp or affected walking style is expected.
Grade 3: A severe Hamstring injury involving a tear to half or all of the muscle, in some cases this injury does require surgery. A pop sound and sensation of the leg ‘giving way’ is common and severe pain is almost a certainty. Swelling and bruising will be noticeable and a feeling of weakness will also be apparent.
Diagnosis of a Hamstring injury involves finding out about what took place and how the injury occurred. A grade 3 hamstring strain is generally a straightforward injury to diagnose.
Testing for flexibility, tenderness and a lump or gap in the Hamstring acts as a starting point, while medical imaging tests such as MRI’s and ultrasounds can determine the exact location and extent of the injury.
Contributing factors to a Hamstring strain
- Poor or inadequate warm up
- Overuse or workload placing extra stress on Hamstrings and surrounding muscles
- Muscle weakness or imbalance
- General tightness
- Fatigue leading to incorrect technique
- Poor core and posterior chain stability
Before being seen to by a health professional, the best thing to do is to follow the RICE template of Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation in that particular order. Elevating your leg should only be done if it feels relatively comfortable and it is advised that the leg only be elevated on a pillow.
The RICE template aims to reduce the bleeding and damage in the muscle.
Osteopathy and Physiotherapy
Treatment from a health professional usually begins around 4 days post the injury occurring. Evidence suggests massage and other treatments prescribed within the first 4 days can potentially worsen the injury. Treatments usually consist of
- Soft tissue massage
- Dry needling
- Joint mobilization
- Ice and heat
- Biomechanical assessment
Osteopathy and Physiotherapy treatment aims to:
- Normalise range of motion
- Reduce pain
- Normalise and improve stability
- Strengthen hamstring muscles and surround muscles
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen can provide short term pain relief and reduce inflammation. Anti-inflammatory medications should only be used as a short term solution and after consulting a health professional.
For more information on how we can help please call Northern Spinal & Sports Injury Clinic on 03 9470 1010.