How Hamstring Strains Occur
A strained hamstring is an injury that can affect any athlete, regardless of sport or competition level. At seventy9 Sports Therapy – our sports therapy clinic in Guildford – we have significant experience in dealing with hamstring injuries in both athletes and non-athletes, across a range of sport and exercise types, as we seek to improve the pain and dysfunction caused by hamstring injuries. In this three part blog series, we delve into hamstring strains, starting with how they occur.
Understanding Hamstring Anatomy
Before looking at the causes of hamstring strains, it’s important to understand the anatomy of the hamstring muscles. Comprising three muscles – biceps femurs, semitendinosus and semimambranosus – the hamstring group is the large set of muscles on the back of the thigh that connects the hip to the knee. As a biarticular muscle group (a muscle group that crosses and acts upon two joints), the hamstring group extend the hip and flex the knee. Our expert team at seventy9 Sports Therapy in Guildford have a deep understanding of the anatomy of the hamstring and the surrounding musculature and use this to rehabilitate hamstring strains in a safe and effective manner.
Common Causes of Hamstring Strains:
Hamstring strains often result from excessive load, especially under fatigue. The common mechanism of injury occurs during maximal velocity running where the hamstring is acting as a brake to both forcible and high velocity hip flexion and knee extension. Our job as a sports therapy clinic in Guildford is to improve patients ability to manage this load by improving hamstring strength and exposing patients to velocity.
Hamstring strains have long been associated to an imbalance in the ratio between quadriceps and hamstring strength. The quadriceps and hamstrings are opposing muscles (agonist and antagonistic pair) and as such when the quadricep is significantly stronger than the hamstring, it has a harder time managing knee extension which increases the risk of overloading the hamstring muscle. At our HQ based at Advance Performance, Guildford, we work closely with the strength coaches at Advance to provide strength and conditioning support for hamstring strength.
Inadequate Warm-up or Mobility
The hamstring muscle group can be vulnerable to injury if the warm up does not match some of the movement or loading exposures the sport/exercise type is asking of the muscle group. This is especially so in activities that involve explosive movements such as sprinting. If the exercise type requires large ranges of movement, improving general mobility around the hip and hamstring away from sporting exposures can also help to decrease hamstring injury risk. At seventy9 Sports Therapy in Guildford, our team are skilled in producing effective mobility programmes for improving hamstring and hip mobility.
High velocity, forceful movements – such as quick accelerations or abrupt stops – can overload the hamstrings, particularly in sports that involve sudden changes of direction and/or sprinting. Improving the strength of the hamstring group can help mitigate this risk, as well as improving the exposure to these scenarios away from competition.
Individuals with a history of hamstring injuries are more susceptible to re-injury, especially if the injury has been poorly rehabilitated. Hamstring strains have one of the highest recurrence rate at a reported almost 33% with many happening within the first two weeks of return to sport. At seventy9 Sports Therapy – our high performance sports therapy clinic in Guildford – we aim to return athletes and patients back to sport and exercise robust and able to manage the requirements of their chosen sport or exercise.
Understanding how hamstring strains occur is the first step in mitigating for them. At seventy9 Sports Therapy, a leading sports therapy clinic in Guildford, we have significant expertise in exercise programming that aims to improve your strength and skill level to help mitigate for this injury risk. Importantly, this does not need to be put in place after you have been injured! If you have had hamstring strains in the past, or are concerned about your hamstring health, or if you have just had a hamstring strain, our sports therapy clinic in Guildford can help! Why not contact us today or book an appointment using our online booking system?
In part 2 of this series looking at hamstring sprains, we will explore the initial management of a hamstring strain, including first aid and when to seek professional help.
Keep an eye out for part 2!