With the Olympics now in full swing, its a great motivator for us to get out of our chairs and start exercising. Lets be honest, we have all pictured ourself standing atop the Olympic dais, gold medal hanging around our neck as they played the Australian anthem. BUT, the sad truth is most of us won’t make it to auspicious stage, but rather end up on the treatment table dealing with an injury.

This week seems to be the week for Hamstrings strains. At the time of writing this article the Melbourne Marathon is only 9 weeks and 3 days, 17 hours and 29 minutes away ( Yes I did go straight the the Melbourne Marathon home page (http://melbournemarathon.com.au)
PS – good luck to all those athletes currently training for this great event.

So, with all this in mind,  I thought I’d pass on some advice on how best to be kind to your hamstrings.

A little bit of background info:

The hamstrings are a group of 3 muscles located on the back of your upper leg which attach at the top to your pelvis and the bottom aspect to your lower leg ( Tibia/ Fibula) just below your knee. When contracted the hamstrings will bend / flex your knee and extend (straighten) your hip.
They are one of the most common injuries in sport, especially sports requiring speed power and changing of direction such as AFL, Soccer basketball netball etc.

During activity, a hamstring strain can occur due to a sudden movement or force being applied to the hamstring muscles. The individual is usually very aware something has happened and grabs the back of their leg. As per our poor soccer player pictured above.

So, what things can cause a strain?
Some of the risk factors with regards to hamstring strains and tears are:

  • Previous hamstring injury.
  • Increasing age of player.
  • Sudden change in direction (acceleration or deceleration).
  • Poor flexibility.
  • Poor strength.
  • Muscle strength imbalance between the quadriceps and hamstrings.
  • Inappropriate, inadequate or no warm up.

Signs and Symptoms: 
Hamstring strains are classified as Grade 1, 2 or 3, depending on the severity of the injury. Signs and symptoms will then differ from individual to individual depending of the severity of the injury as well as the mechanism.

Grade 1 Strain:
Symptoms may only start once you have cooled down.
You may experience an increased tightness in the muscle
Pain with sitting or walking (uphill or stairs)
Reduced flexibility.

Grade 2: Moderate
Your strength may be reduced, as will your flexibility.
Immediate onset of pain and worse with activation of the muscle.
You may limp due to pain associated with use of the muscle.
Bruising may appear after a few days

Grade 3: Severe
Sudden, sharp intense pain at the back of the knee.
There may be a lump or a hole in the muscle.
Inability to walk without pain
Onset of bruising after a few days.
If bad enough, may require surgical repair.

So what can we do to ensure our hamstrings are as healthy as possible and reduce the likelihood of injury? Here are a few tips:

  1. Maintain good flexibility of the muscle. regular stretching, foam rolling and deep tissue massage are all useful.  Brooke Robertson Myotherapist is your go to person. Keep in mind, stretching your hamstring by bending over and trying to touch your toes is nothing short of horrible. If you don’t know how to stretch your hamstrings please email info@equilibriumsas.com.au and we will be more than happy to show you some amazing stretching technique’s that won’t lead to further injury.
  2. Strengthening the surrounding muscles. These include your Quadriceps ( muscles on the front of your leg) pelvic muscles Gluteals, Abdominals, hip flexors etc.
  3. Good lower back health and posture. Tightness or dysfunction her can have a dramatic effect on your hamstrings.
  4. Maintaining good mobility of your ankles, knee’s hips and lower back – Ashley Gudgeon  – Osteopath is our mobility guru. He will show you how to move your body to maximise its potential and reduce the likelihood of injury.
  5. Cross training – swimming, running hills, cycling, climbing stairs – all help use the muscles in different ways, strengthening all aspects of the muscle.
  6. Undertake regular treatment therapy. Ensuring your entire body is functioning at at optimum level with ensure you are in top condition.
  7. Adequate footwear for your chosen sport. Having a good stable base of support on your feet helps the body function at its optimal level.
  8. Hydration: Being well hydrated before participating in activity will allow your muscles to work efficiently.
  9. Listen to your body – if you are feeling sore, tired. and fatigued, reduce your intensity or rest.
  10. Seek help straight away if you have injured your hamstring. Rehabilitation started straight away will hopefully reduce your time on the side lines and improve your outcome

Your hamstrings should not hold you back from performing at your absolute best.

If you are experiencing any hamstring soreness or pain, BOOK IN ONLINE NOW or call 9500 2030, and let us help you on your way to better hamstring health and wellbeing.

Start feeling better TODAY!