Hamstring Strains And Rehabilitation

Hamstring Strains And Rehabilitation

Hamstring strains are one of the most frequently occurring injuries in sport. Hamstring strains are caused by a rapid contraction or forceful extension of the hamstring muscles. This is most commonly seen in sports that involve high speed running and quick changes of direction such as Australian Rules football (AFL), soccer and athletics.

Presentation of hamstring strain:

Common symptoms include:

  • Sharp pain at the back of the thigh
  • "Popping" or tearing felt at the back of the thigh
  • Muscle spasm in the hamstrings
  • Tenderness of the muscles, pain with stretching the leg and a bruise

How can you manage hamstring strains?

The management is divided into three stages

Phase 1: Managing the injury within the first week

  • RICE principals; Rest, ice, compression and elevation
  • Avoid excessive active or passive lengthening of the hamstrings

Phase 2: Starting to introduce exercise and regaining strength and flexibility

  • Progressive strengthening program for hamstrings, as well as other musculature around hip and knee
  • Balance and proprioceptive training
  • Stretching and physiotherapy to relieve cramping and tightness

Phase 3: Return to sport and future injury prevention

  • Plyometric jump training
  • Return to running, progressing to sprinting and agility training
  • Sport-specific drills that incorporate postural control
  • Longer term management strategies to prevent re-injury