Hamstring injury is a common and significant injury in sports, particularly in activities that require high levels of sprinting, jumping, and cutting. It can have a significant impact on a player’s performance and ability to participate in the sport. Hamstring strains can lead to time lost from training and competition, decreased physical performance, and a higher risk of re-injury, which can affect the overall success of a team or individual athlete. Additionally, hamstring injuries can be difficult to fully recover from, leading to chronic weakness and a reduced ability to perform at peak levels.
Hamstring injuries can affect athletes in all sports, but certain individuals and populations are at a higher risk. This includes:
- Sprinters and football (soccer) players – These athletes perform a lot of high-speed running and sudden stops and turns, putting a lot of stress on the hamstrings.
- Older athletes – With age, the hamstrings can become less flexible and less able to withstand the demands of the sport.
- Athletes with previous hamstring injuries – Previous hamstring injuries increase the risk of future injury, as scar tissue can weaken the muscle and make it more susceptible to strains.
- Athletes with muscle imbalances or poor flexibility – Poor flexibility and muscle imbalances can lead to increased stress on the hamstrings and increase the risk of injury.
- Athletes who have changed their training regime or increased their training intensity suddenly – Sudden increases in intensity can put a lot of stress on the muscles and increase the risk of injury.
Mechanism of injury:
Hamstring injuries typically occur during the late swing phase and early stance phase of gait. During these phases, the hamstrings are under high levels of tension as they rapidly decelerate the forward motion of the thigh and then rapidly contract to control the flexion of the knee.
In the late swing phase, the hamstrings are working to slow down the forward motion of the thigh and prepare for a foot strike. If the hamstrings are overworked or fatigued, they can become vulnerable to injury.
In the early stance phase, the hamstrings are contracted to control the flexion of the knee. If the hamstrings are not properly prepared, or if there is an imbalance in muscle strength, they can be at risk for injury.
It’s important to maintain proper strength and flexibility in the hamstrings to help prevent injury and ensure proper gait mechanics. If an injury does occur, it’s important to seek proper medical attention and to follow a comprehensive rehabilitation program to ensure a full and proper recovery.
The physiotherapy treatment of a hamstring injury typically involves the following steps:
- Acute injury management: The initial focus of treatment is to manage pain and swelling, protect the injured muscle, and begin the healing process. This may include the use of ice, compression, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Stretching and strengthening: As the injury improves, the focus of treatment shifts to restoring flexibility and strength to the hamstrings. This may include stretching exercises, resistance band exercises, and weight-bearing exercises.
- Sport-specific rehabilitation: As the athlete approaches full recovery, the focus shifts to sport-specific rehabilitation to restore full function and prevent re-injury. This may include agility drills, plyometrics, and sport-specific drills.
- Prevention: The final stage of treatment focuses on injury prevention, including the implementation of a comprehensive warm-up program, proper stretching, and strength training to maintain muscle balance and prevent future injury.
It’s important to work with a qualified physiotherapist who can develop an individualized treatment plan based on the specifics of the injury and the goals of the athlete. The physiotherapist can also provide guidance and support throughout the rehabilitation process to ensure a full and proper recovery.