Hamstring Strain Management

Hamstring strains are common in sports such as soccer, AFL, rugby league as well as common physical activities like running. The hamstring muscle group is comprised of three muscles which act to extend the hip and bend the knee. When the tension within the muscle is too high due to too much force or repetition then the muscle fibres tear. Hamstring strains commonly happen while running, just before the foot strikes the ground. In this position the hamstring is in a lengthened position and is required to produce a lot of force to prepare the foot for impact. Hamstring strains are graded 1-3 depending on their severity, with grade 1 being a minor strain with only a few fibres torn compared to grade 3 which involves over 50% of the muscle fibres being torn and may involve full rupture of the muscle.

Signs and symptoms of a hamstring strain vary depending on the severity of the injury and may include pain when walking, pain on stretch, bruising, tightness and weakness. Hamstring strain recovery times also vary, with on average 6-8 weeks required for a grade 2 strain.

Management includes soft tissue therapy and a gradual strengthening program to restore full range and strength. A return to sport program is important to ensure a smooth transition back to playing/exercising. Management also includes addressing any contributing factors such as weak glut and hamstring muscles, poor flexibility, inappropriate shoes, poor technique, unbalanced training program etc. Proper management of a hamstring strain is vital as inadequate rehabilitation leads to an increased risk of injuring the hamstring again.

 

By Jessica Norton

 

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