You don’t have to be an athlete to suffer a hamstring injury, but it certainly contributes to a lot of them. Your hamstrings are the three muscles on the back of your thigh, and they allow you to bend your knee and straighten your hip.
Hamstring injuries are the top sports injury and are exceedingly common in certain sports, like football, track, and soccer, but they can also occur when you perform everyday activities, like walking, running, and jumping.
Thanks to Dr. Struan Coleman’s extensive experience treating professional athletes, he’s helped many patients with hamstring injuries of varying degrees of severity. He diagnoses your injury thoughtfully and creates an innovative treatment plan that’s targeted to treat your specific symptoms.
The practice also provides services for those experiencing pain related to many types of injuries. When you seek treatment from Dr. Coleman and his team, you’re in the hands of dedicated professionals whose goal is to restore your mobility and free you from pain.
I’m in good shape, how did I injure my hamstring?
As we noted, even talented athletes are prone to hamstring injuries, especially if they play certain sports that require sudden stopping and starting, but nonathletes experience these injuries frequently as well. Adolescents are especially prone to hamstring injuries, since overstretched muscles are often the result of muscles and bones that grow at different rates.
Hamstring injuries are simply the result of your hamstring muscles being overstretched by activity, when too much is demanded of them. This phenomenon is called muscle overload.
Some overload is good, as it allows your muscles to grow and develop. However, when you’re going on a challenging run, for example, you’re asking a lot of your body overall. At this point, several vulnerabilities can make it more likely that you’ll sustain a hamstring injury:
- Muscle tightness
- Muscle fatigue
- Inadequate conditioning
- Previous hamstring injury
Another factor that increases your risk of hamstring injury is muscle imbalance, or when your quadriceps — the muscles located on the front of your thigh — end up being stronger and better developed than your hamstrings.
Not all hamstring injuries are created equal
When you see Dr. Coleman for a hamstring injury, he determines what grade it is, as symptoms differ depending on grade:
Grade 1: A strain is generally accompanied by sudden pain in the back of your thigh. Your leg still retains its strength, but moving it becomes difficult.
Grade 2: A partial tear is marked by more pain than a strain, as well as swelling, bruising, and decreased strength.
Grade 3: A severe tear is identified when pain is worse than either a grade 1 strain or a grade 2 partial tear, and you also experience bruising, swelling, and tenderness. Some people also hear a popping sound when this type of complete tear (an avulsion) occurs, tearing your hamstring tendon completely away from your bone. Sometimes, part of your bone is torn away too.
Treatments for hamstring injuries are also guided by severity, but the first at-home step you should take is RICE treatment, or rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Dr. Coleman may also recommend a course of physical therapy to help you heal.
If your injury is severe, a surgical solution may be the answer, so Dr. Coleman can repair and reattach your tear. A procedure to treat an avulsion sees him remove scar tissue, position your hamstring correctly, and reattach your tendon and muscle to your bone.
Recovery also involves physical therapy so your flexibility and strength can increase and you can regain your full range of motion.
Is there anything I can do to protect my hamstrings?
Absolutely! Put these practices in place now to decrease the risk of a hamstring injury. Or, if you’ve already suffered one, employing them in the future can lower your risk for re-injury:
- Maintain your flexibility by stretching your hamstrings
- Include hamstring strengthening exercises in your routine
- Engage in eccentric strength training (gradual muscle stretching)
- Incorporate exercises that develop your balance and coordination into your routine
- Don’t neglect properly warming up before exercise
Talk to Dr. Coleman if your work is physically demanding, because he can recommend the conditioning exercises that are best for you.
If you think you’ve experienced a hamstring injury, or if you want to discuss prevention, call our West Side, Locust Valley, or Philadelphia office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Coleman, or reach out to us through our website.