If you have been watching the world cup in Brazil as rabidly as I have you’ve seen a number of players pull up on a run or after a kick clutching the back of their leg, classic sign they’ve suffered a hamstring injury.
Ever wonder where that term came from, it does sound odd, but the name came from butchers who would hang pigs from those muscles, the ham portion meant the bend at the knee and the string part from the obvious string-like feel of the tendon portion that attaches these muscles to the lower leg at the knee. If you reach behind your knee they are quite easy to feel.
These muscles functions are to bend the knee, many of you have done “hamstring curls” at the gym lying on your stomach bringing heels to buttocks.
The hamstrings are a group of three muscles that attach to the bottom of you pelvis, the bones you sit on, your thigh and finally just below the knee.
The hamstrings are often tight and as the opposing muscles to the powerful quadriceps on the top of your thigh, the muscles that straighten the knee, they are often injured when sprinting or when quickly stretched, i.e. as we’ve seen in the World Cup stretching to kick or reach the ball.
Risk factors for injuring a hamstring are varied but include, lack of flexibility, muscle imbalance between quadriceps and hamstrings, inadequate warm-up, age, fatigue (perhaps one of the issues with World Cup athletes) and previous injury to the back, knee or hamstring. Most often the injury is in the buttock area or middle of the muscle, if you suspect you’ve injured a hamstring, stop your activity and ice the area for a 10/10/10 protocol or 10minutes ice, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes ice every hour to 2 hours.
In office treatment will include electrical muscle stimulation, ultrasound, soft tissue therapy and spinal manipulation. As a chiropractor we see increased hamstring tightness following injury/irritation to your lower spinal joints, so ensuring your spine motion is optimal is an important part of treatment and as a preventative measure.
Rehabilitative exercises to be done at home are important and include some gentle stretching and as pain and range of motion improves, static strengthening ( without movement) and dynamic strengthening ( with movement)
Below are a few examples of simple home exercises to stretch and strengthen the hamstrings. If you have questions or want more information please don’t hesitate to contact me at drkevinfinn.ca
The hamstrings are important muscles you may recall when I blogged about girls and Knee ACL injuries and there are more exercises in the FIFA11 soccer exercise protocol.
Gentle stretching examples
HAMSTRING STRETCH – SUPINE
While lying on your back, raise up your leg and hold the back of your knee until a stretch is felt.