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Hamstring Injury

A Hamstring Injury is one of the most common and troublesome injuries for athletes. It can occur in a number of ways, one of the most common being over-stretching. A mild hamstring injury, if untreated, can result in recurring strains of the hamstring. 

What is a Hamstring Injury?

The Hamstring is made up of a group of muscles that run down the back of the thigh. The main muscles are the biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and the semitendinosis. They start at the bottom of the pelvis at a place called the ischial tuberosity, and cross the knee joint and end at the lower leg. Hamstring muscle fibers join with the tough, connective tissue of the hamstring tendons near the points where the tendons attach to bones.

A Hamstring Injury can be are usually either strains or contusions.

Strains are categorised into three grades:

  1. Minimal muscle damage and rapid rehabilitation
  2. Partial muscle rupture, pain and some loss of function
  3. Complete tissue rupture, pain and functional disability 

A contusion occurs when an external force hits the hamstring muscle.

Hamstring Injury

Signs and Symptoms of Hamstring Injury

Signs and symptoms of Hamstring Injury can include:

  • Sudden sharp pain in back of thigh
  • Thigh muscle painful to touch
  • Inability to walk or bear weight
  • Bump or knot in thigh area
  • Swelling
  • Bruising or discoloration at the back of the leg
  • Spasms
  • Muscle soreness when bending knee
  • Muscle stiffness, especially after cool-down period
  • Weakness in hamstring

Causes of Hamstring Injury

The main cause of Hamstring Injury is muscle overload, which is when a muscle (ie hamstring) is stretched beyond its capacity or challenged with a sudden load.

Hamstring strains often occur when the muscle lengthens as it contracts, or shortens. This is called 'eccentric contraction', and happens when a muscle is extended while it is weighted or loaded. This eccentric contraction is what occurs in sprinting, as the back leg is straightened, and the muscles are loaded with body weight as well as the force required for the forward motion. 

Risk factors of Hamstring Injury include:

  • muscle tightness
  • muscle fatigue
  • poor conditioning
  • muscle imbalance
  • athletes - particularly football, basketball, runners/sprinters, dancers
  • adolescents who are going through growth spurts

Statistics and Epidemiology related to Hamstring Injury

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