Hamstring Strains/Tears

Hamstrings issues are very common

Let’s just take a look at the hamstring itself. What is it? What does it do?

So, the Hamstring or Hamstrings isn’t one muscle but in fact 4 muscles bundled together. 3 of them span across 2 joints; Starting at the bone you typically sit on, attaching then via the stringy bits at the back of your knee.

Due to their crossing of both joints, this makes them potentially higher risk of injury, compared to muscles that only cross one singular joint.

These make up for about a quarter of all injuries within the GAA, 29.1% in Football and 23.6% in Hurling (and that’s just the muscle) – that’s a lot.

What is also worth pointing out, is that of those roughly 25% injured athletes, nearly a third of those will re-injure.

This would suggest that they have returned to play too soon or their rehabilitation strategies were incomplete or unfortunately a mixture of the two.

As with most muscles, there is a mixed bag of issues/injuries that can occur:

  • Hamstring strains (Grade 1 to 3).
  • Spasms from overuse/fatigue of the central nervous system.
  • Tendon problems
  • Avulsions (where the tendon detaches from the bone)
IRFU APC physio

Does How It Happen Make A Difference?

Yes! Understanding the mechanism of how the athlete injured their leg is hugely important.

This gives the clinician a much better idea of what particular structure is at play, and a better guidance on how long will be lost to sport.

There are many factors that come into play in determining how severe the injury is and how long it will take to rehabilitate.

Studies have shown injuries closer to the origin site (higher up) will result in prolonged rehab period. Associated with this could be acute tendon damage – with this leading to an increase in the time to recover.

Other studies have compared the difference of a high speed running injury to that of a stretch type injury. Sprinting/running strains causes an eccentric force to occur during the swing and stance phase of running and increases the level of injury risk during maximal sprints.

Stretch type injuries typically occur closer to the “sits bone” where the Hamstring originates from on the pelvis and commonly involve the Semimembranosis tendon sheath. Generally research suggests that the stretch type injuries take longer to recover than the higher speed ones.

How the injury happens will also influence what rehab is needed

Other factors to consider here that may negatively affect your return to competition are:

Previous Injury, Avulsion Fractures, Large Haematoma or Intramuscular.

Why do I keep breaking down in this area?

With recurring hamstring injuries we have found that often despite the best efforts of the patient and previous bouts of rehabilitation, the root cause or “why” has been ignored, and only treated the symptom or the “where”.

Often the main difference we see between the athlete with “bulletproof hamstrings” and those who continue to get tightness and re-injury – is that the bulletproof athlete has identified the root cause and been meticulous in that rehabilitation.

The most common causes we see are:

  • Pitch Training Load Errors
  • Reduced Lower Back Mobility
  • Nerve Tension
  • Weak Core Muscles
  • Weak Hamstrings
  • Reduced Ankle Mobility
  • Tight Hips

That is what we here at APC Physio & Sports Clinic aim to do.

With a keen ear, and thorough assessments we get to the root cause of the issue, not just where the pain is.

Also, by far the most common pitfall people have with their return to play rehab is a lack of running program progressions.

This is imperative as high speed running is the best form of hamstring rehab!

The type of running has to be specific to where your recovery is.

Most people wait too late to start running after injury and then do too much too soon!

Don’t make that mistake!

Hamstring Strain Holding You Back?

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Patrick Hanley

Patrick Hanley

Director / Chartered Physiotherapist

Steven Gilmore

Certified Athletic Therapist

Craig Grehan

Craig Grehan

Certified Athletic Therapist

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