Hamstring injuries are common to sports with speed athletes like football, track and field, baseball, and basketball. The injury can be sustained by any athlete that has to run fast. Speed sports can put a lot of strain on the hamstrings due to weakness, inactive glutes or poor mechanics. Hamstring injuries can be hard to come back from mentally so your best route is going to prevention.
The hamstring is not a string at all. It consists of three muscles in the rear thigh, but when the two most massive muscles are flexed, they can feel like one string from your hamstring to your butt. These muscles allow you to flex at the knee and also assist in hip extension.
Causes of Hamstring Injuries
- Inadequate warm-up before intense running and jumping
- Tight quads
- Weak glutes putting more load on the hamstrings
- Tight psoas causing the hips to over rotate
The hamstring is a complex muscle. It is not easy to understand why a hamstring will tear when you are trying to run fast. To get a grasp on this, the first thing you need to understand is the different types of contractions.
There are concentric, eccentric and isometric contractions. With concentric contractions the muscle get shorter during flexion, eccentric it gets longer and isometric it does not go anywhere. When you pull your hamstring, it is often during the eccentric phase when you are sprinting. That is when the hamstring is trying to slow the foot down but lengthening to get the foot back to the ground.
The second cause of hamstring injuries is due to how other muscles are behaving. For example, the quads being tight means that the hamstrings will have to fight them to flex. The glutes often are not active due to how much we sit down.
The third reason is overrotation of the pelvis due to a tight psoas. When the psoas is tight, it makes the pelvis tilt forward, and that automatically puts the hamstrings on more of a stretch when the foot is about the hit the floor when running. It creates poor mechanics and horrible situation for the hamstring.
Symptoms of Hamstring Injuries
- Severe pain in the back of thigh often after a sudden pop
- Pain in back of thigh when running
- Pain in back of thigh when bending over
- Tenderness or bruising in the back of the thigh
The only way to get an accurate assessment of the severity of a tear is by getting imaging done with either an ultrasound or an MRI. Doctors will be able to see how deep and long the tear is which will help with creating a game plan to get healthy.
If you hurt your hamstring running, you will know right away. There will be a sudden pain in your leg, and it will feel like running is no longer a good idea. The key is to listen to your body. Anything you do after tearing a hamstring plays a role in how quickly you recover.
Treatment of Hamstring Injuries
There are a lot of things you can do for short-term fixes of the hamstring. The best way to fix the injury, in the long run, the best fix is to get treatment and strengthen the correct areas. Getting treatment will help to rid the body of any scar tissue or knots from past injuries. Therapy will also help to keep your glutes activated and your psoas from getting too tight.
Treatment is not enough because if your hamstring is weak eccentrically, you are going to need to work on that. The same goes for your glutes; weak glutes make staying healthy much harder. When you work on both of these areas you decrease your chances of suffering a hamstring injury.
- Rest but not too much – The goal is to stay as active as possible with no pain. For muscles to recover from strains, they need to be put under stress. Lying in bed for two weeks and trying to sprint again will not work.
- Ice – To reduce pain and to swell soon after initial injury.
- Compression – To reduce pain and to swell soon after an initial injury
- Eccentric hamstring strength – Many times hamstrings tear during the eccentric phase of running. Strengthening the muscle as it will help to prevent this.
- Glute Strength – When the glutes are too weak they often put the extra workload on the hamstrings.
- Bodywork on hamstrings – Getting a training professional to massage the hamstring or do things like Active Release Technique can go a long way in maintaining health and working out scar tissue that develops.
- Bodywork on psoas – Lengthening the psoas reverses the impact of sitting allowing the hips to be in the healthiest position possible.
- Graston – This is a tool used by trained professionals that allow them to dig deep into muscles and break up trigger points and scar tissue.
Prevention of Hamstring Injuries
The following should be done at least once a week by speed athletes. During the season the objective is maintenance and doing them with more speed, but during pre-season and off-season, there is no reason not to get after it. You want to get the hamstrings and glutes as strong as you possibly can.
- Warm up properly – Hamstring need to be adequately warmed up before any intense activity
- Isometric Strengthening of Hamstrings
- Eccentric Strengthening of Hamstrings
- Regular bodywork to keep muscles healthy
- Regular stretching of hips, hamstrings, and quads
More Resources for Hamstring Injuries
- 9INE POINT Health App
- Building a Stretching Routine
- Hamstring Tendon
- Hamstring Stretches Using Yoga
- Hamstring Injury Rehab
- Hamstring Injury Recovery Time
- Hamstring Injury Running
Mentally Overcoming Hamstring Injuries
You may be 100% recovered from a hamstring injury but not believe it in your head. You can have a therapist telling you that you are recovered, you can even get an MRI that proves it. The problem is mentally the brain still is targetting that area as a problem area, and it is hard to fight through the mind. It is terrifying and your brain is trying to make sure you do not get hurt again.
Working with a provider can be helpful through this because during rehab they will know how and when to push you past your comfort zone. If this does not happen, you will have a hard time getting past this mental block. A big part of getting past it also takes realizing that your leg is not going to feel the way that it used to feel.
What Your Hamstring Is Not Healing On Its Own?
Sometimes you can ice all you want, but a muscle is in pain because another area is not working or because it is protecting you. With the hips, for example, your back may be hurting because your psoas is doing too much work and it is also tight. The psoas may be doing too much work because your other hip flexors are not activating properly. The chain reaction could keep going.
Sometimes you need the help of a sports medicine provider. Sports medicine providers are used to working with athletes that need to get results quickly, to get back on the field. If you are not an athlete, I am sure that you still want quick results.
There are many different options you can go with when looking for a provider. You could get a chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist or many other options. The key is finding someone you trust and that you are excited to work with.
How to Find The Best Healthcare Providers for Hamstring Injuries
9INE POINT Health is the best place to find the health care providers you need for any injuries. It does not matter where you are hurting; a 9INE POINT Health provider will be able to get you healthy again. 9INE POINT allows you to find the best local providers and compare them quickly using the 9INE POINT Number.
If you have no idea what you need, but you know you need something, 9INE POINT Health is an injury guide, and you will get helped through the process. We make it easier for you to find the information and the person you are looking for.
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