Hamstring strains are one of the most common sports injuries. And they can very often be recurrent, which is incredibly frustrating for players and their team-mates. 

The hamstring muscles are found at the back of your thigh. The hamstrings are composed of three main muscles; the biceps femoris muscle, the semimembranosus muscle and the semitendinosus muscle. The biceps femoris muscle is the most commonly injured. Hamstring strains occur when excessive or sudden tension is put through the hamstring muscle fibers.  Hamstring strains vary from simple strains to complete tears.

The hamstrings are most active when we are sprinting, and are very common in sports involving sudden acceleration and deceleration, such as hurling and camogie or sports that involve kicking like soccer. 

Hamstring injuries have the highest recurrence rate of all injuries, with a 50% re-injury rate within the first 25 days of getting back to sport. THATS VERY HIGH!! 

But why? Lots of reasons potentially. Here’s a few common ones: 

  1. You went back into playing matches too quickly. Statistics from the premier league show that with every full training session completed your risk of being injured in a match goes down by 14%. And in fact your injury risk doesn’t go back to normal until you’ve completed 9 training sessions prior to your first match (no-one wants to know or hear this!!). We generally get people back running (in a controlled way) within a few days of pulling the hamstring, and get them doing controlled training far quicker than you might expect (emphasis on the word controlled!) as we build the hamstring strength. 
  2. You didn’t start rehab early enough– every day you delay in starting hamstring rehab, delays your return to sport by 3 days.  
  3. You didn’t rehab your hamstrings properly – they need to get strong enough for what you are doing – if you need to get back sprinting, they need to be pretty strong. Too weak, and you’ll tear them again. 
  4. The rest of you isn’t strong enough – the hamstrings can be put under pressure because the surrounding muscles not being strong enough – for example the muscles of the buttock, or front of the thigh (quads) work in partnership with the hamstring, if they are weak the hamstrings can be working too hard. Equally if the core muscles aren’t strong enough, the hamstrings can be put under pressure.
  5. Your hamstring isn’t the problem, it’s coming from somewhere else- different structures at the lower back and hips (i.e disc, nerve, muscle) can refer pain into the hamstring area at the back of the thigh which may lead you to believe your hamstrings are injured. However, the problem could be coming from higher up the chain. The sciatic nerve is a common referral source of pain into the hamstring area. This will be treated differently to a hamstring strain so it is important to get your injury assessed and treated correctly by a Chartered physiotherapist in order to reduce your risk of re-injury.

If you are having recurrent hamstring strains (or know someone who is), or recovering from your first one and want to prevent it happening again, give us a shout. Don’t try to self manage, it doesn’t usually end well, and rest alone won’t fix it, it’ll just keep coming back.

You can email us at info@eastcoastphysio.ie, call 0404-49781 or book online at www.eastcoastphysio.ie/booking