The Olympics have been in full swing for the past week and when there is this much sport going on, there's bound to be many injuries. With athletics being the hot topic for the next week, hamstring strains seem to be the logical injury to discuss. Even Usain Bolt suffered the injury in the Jamaican Olympic Trials. A Bit About Hamstrings.
The hamstrings consist of 3 muscles running from your bottom to the back of your knee. They act to extend your hip (move your leg back) and bend your knee. Hamstring strains often occur in sports involving sprinting, kicking, jumping or stopping and starting suddenly as these actions load up your hamstring muscles as they are being stretched. There are three grades of muscle tears which detail the severity of the tear and typically give an idea of how long the injury will take to get better.
What Causes a Hamstring tear?
There may be several factors leading to a hamstring tear. They include biomechanical problems such as weak gluteal muscles and weak core which cause poor control around your hips and back, tight quadricep and hamstring muscles, as well as excessively strong quadriceps which overpower the hamstrings, fatigue, and reduced hamstring strength. How would you know if you've got a strained hamstring or if you have a completely different injury? 1. The Mechanism of Injury- Muscle strains usually occur after a sudden movement. 2. Type of Pain- Typically, you'll immediately feel a sharp pain, the area will have a pinpoint pain when pressed and sometimes you can even feel a gap or divot in your muscle. Stretching or contracting the muscle will cause pain and you may walk with a limp and have a shortened stride length. 3. Swelling or bruising. The next day there may be swelling and/or bruising due to the disruption of muscle fibres which contain blood vessels, causing a local inflammatory response of the tissues and bleeding in the surrounding area. Other hamstring problems include a tendinopathy, which classically will display a slow onset of pain with no specific incident. Pain down the back of the leg may also be referred pain from the lower back or gluteal muscles. What can you do if you think you've strained your hamstring? Immediately get some ice onto the area. This will slow the inflammatory response and you should ice up to 72 hours post injury, if you can, every few hours for 15-20 minutes. You may also compress the area with a compression bandage (but be careful to not cut circulation off to your leg!), elevate your leg, and then rest. You won't be out running for a few weeks depending on the severity of the strain. Another important message is to not stretch or massage the area for the first 72 hours as the area is trying to heal and this will disrupt the process! It would also be beneficial to visit us at OneBody so we can get you back up and running and perhaps find the reason why the strain occurred in the first place. Research has shown that there is a high recurrence rate for hamstring injuries if they are not treated effectively!