The hamstring injury is one of the most common injuries suffered by athletes, especially those who must accelerate suddenly and forcefully contract or stretch their legs, like soccer and football players. It is not an uncommon sight for the audience to see an athlete crumple to the field, clutching the back of his or her thigh in obvious pain. The pain is sometimes so severe that he or she will need to be carried off.
What Are Hamstring Muscles?
The hamstring muscles are three muscles in the back of the thigh that are contracted by four tendons. These muscles are the biceps femoris, the semitendinosus and the semimembranosus. They help a person bend their knee and straighten their hip. However, the biceps femoris has a long and short head, and the short head only helps to bend the knee. An injury to a hamstring can range from a minor bruise or strain to a full scale rupture.
also be discolored. The person may have difficulty walking or not be able to walk at all. Another of the symptoms of injury is discomfort when the person exercises or when pressure is applied to the knee. There is also pain when the knee is bent or straightened. If the injury is severe, the person might hear a popping sound at the moment it occurs. If a rupture happens, the hamstring pain will be incapacitating, and the leg will not be able to bear the person’s weight. A doctor can diagnose whether there’s been a hamstring injury through physical examination, MRI or ultrasound.
A ruptured hamstring requires that the person seek medical attention right away. If the injury is a bit milder, he should employ the PRICE procedure. This means protect, rest, ice, compress and elevate the area of the injury. For a mild injury, the doctor will prescribe analgesics and refer the patient to a physical therapist. If the injury consists of a rupture, surgery will be needed to suture the damaged tissue together. After that, the patient will need to wear a brace and rest for about six weeks or until the hamstring is healed.
When the patient is healed enough to undertake hamstring exercises, his physical therapist may at first massage the area to relieve symptoms. He may also put strapping over the area to prevent the muscle from being overused and assess the patient’s range of motion. Exercises may begin with bridges, which are exercises where the knee is flexed and held, deep water pool jogging and bicycling. The patient may also be taught to do knee extensions within his pain threshold and exercises that strengthen his core and gluteals.
Later exercises can involve Nordic hamstring lowers and straight leg deadlifts. These exercises should be continued for a while even after the person returns to his sport.