Having worked in professional football for Hull City for over 11 years, we have seen our fair share of hamstring related injuries. Hamstring injuries within professional football are the most common muscle injury and rehabilitating them is our bread and butter. However, lets have a look at what the hamstring muscles are, how we know that an injury has occurred and what is the best way to get you back on your feet again.
Excellent video of hamstring injuries:
What are the hamstrings?
The hamstring muscles are made up of three muscles; the Semimembranosus (SM), Semitendinosus (ST) and the Bicep Femoris long head (BFLH) and short head (BFSH). This hamstring group are the single most injured complex in sport and account for 6 to 29 per cent of all injuries seen. The rationale for the high hamstring prevalence in football and other elite sports are due to all three hamstrings extending from the knee joint and across the hip joint. All three hamstring muscles are active when the hip is in extension and the knee bent simultaneously. This position described is regularly seen in football as the most common hamstring injury mechanism. We see this mechanism regularly when you sprint or kick a ball.
How do you know if you have had a hamstring muscle tear?
Often people experience either a sharp pain, an audible “pop”, or a popping or tearing sensation in the hamstring muscles. Typically a hamstring tear will have a specific mechanism like a kick or a sprint and you will immediately feel pain, loss of power or loss of range of movement at either the knee or the hip joint. Usually with a hamstring muscle tear, you will not be able to resume playing sport at the time of injury. After stopping activity, you may experience stiffness and swelling, continuing hamstring pain, and a difficulty to perform daily tasks such as walking, going up and down stairs and getting on and off the sofa.
So what should you do in the event of a hamstring injury?
If you have heard of the PRICE guidelines, these are by far the best to follow and are used regularly within professional sport and they are adhered to still.
P- Protection, protect the injury. This may mean using crutches and not placing any weight through the foot. Not moving the leg if possible.
R-Rest, rest is important as the body needs to heal itself within the first 24-72 hours dependent on the size of the muscle tear.
I- Ice, ice helps to reduce the swelling around the muscle tear. You can use either a bag of peas or some crushed ice.
C- Compression, we would argue that compression is the most important factor within the process guidelines as it stops the muscle from bleeding to much and becoming an irritant later in the rehab process.
E- Elevation, Keep the leg rested in a high position, to reduce the amount of blood within the area for the first 48 hours.
***Do not be alarmed if your pain persists for more than a week, it all depends on the size of the tear.***
How should I rehabilitate my hamstring injury?
Start off using by simply moving the leg, this will help the body start to heal itself and the hamstring to move again. Use pain as a guide for how much and when to move the muscle.
Once you have full range of movement at the knee and hip without any pain you can start to put some weight through the leg and the best way to do this is by walking. If you can walk pain free then you can start to jog immediately.
Once you can jog you can start to use hamstring strengthening machines and exercises. A physiotherapist will know what you need to do for these, if you are not familiar with them then use youtube or google to help. You can see the video below on how to rehab the hamstring effectively. If you are still unsure please seek advice from a Physiotherapist.
Remember every hamstring injury is different and the injury will dictate the time to rehab the hamstring.
Lastly, remember that if the hamstring muscle is not rehabilitated properly, the muscle will be at huge risk of re-rupturing again and again. Therefore, take the rehab process seriously and take your time.
Thanks for reading.