One of the most common and painful injuries in sport is the hamstring strain. Hamstring strains occur frequently among activities that require a high degree of speed, power and agility such as soccer, running, basketball and dancing. A hamstring strain can range from mild to very severe involving a complete tear of the hamstring muscle.
The hamstrings are made up of three large muscles, located on the back of the upper leg: Biceps Femoris (laterally), Semimembranosus and Semitendinosus (Medially) The top of these muscles are attached to the lower part of the pelvis, and the bottom of the hamstring muscles are attached to the tibia and fibula (shin bones) just below the knee joint. The action of the hamstring muscles is to flex (bend) the knee and extend (straighten) the hip.
What can cause a hamstring strain?
During contraction of the hamstrings, tension is placed through the hamstring muscles. When this tension is excessive due to too much repetition or high force, one or more of the hamstring muscles can tear. This is known as a hamstring strain.
Tears to the hamstring muscle can range from a small partial tear whereby there is minimal pain and minimal loss of function, to a complete rupture which may require surgical reconstruction.
The major cause of hamstring injuries originates from an imbalance between the quadriceps muscle and the hamstring muscles (located at the front and back of the thigh respectively). The quadriceps are a very large, strong group of muscles which help to extend (straighten) the leg. These muscles may forcibly overstretch the hamstring, placing excessive tension on the hamstring muscles.
Acute hamstring strains occur due to a sudden movement or force being applied to the hamstring muscles. The athlete is immediately aware of the condition. Hamstring Strains are graded 1, 2 or 3 depending on severity. Hamstring Strains are graded 1, 2 or 3 depending on severity.
A grade 1 hamstring strain is the least severe. It is the result of some minor stretching of the muscles and tendons, and is accompanied by mild pain, some swelling and stiffness. There is usually very little loss of function as a result of a first degree strain.
A grade 2 hamstring strain is the result of both stretching and some tearing of the muscles and tendons. There is increased swelling, bruising and pain associated with a second degree strain, and a moderate loss of function.
A grade 3 hamstring strain is the most severe of the three. A third degree strain is the result of a complete tear or rupture of one or more of the muscles and tendons. A third degree strain will result in massive swelling, severe pain and gross instability.
- Previous history of hamstring injury hamstring injury.
- Age of person.
- Sudden change in direction (acceleration or deceleration).
- Lack of flexibility.
- Hamstring weakness.
- Hamstring muscle fatigue.
- Muscle strength imbalance between the quadriceps (Concentric) and hamstrings (eccentric).
- Inappropriate, inadequate or no warm up.
Other potential sources of pain may be considered, and the physical examination will help to differentiate a pulled hamstring from disc or or joint pain. Sciatica, a pain that originates in the nerves as they leave the spinal cord, can also mimic hamstring injury.
Whether you are a weekend warrior or an elite athlete, our skilled chiropractors can help diagnose and treat your hamstring injury, and get you back on the road to recovery.