Hamstring Injuries – What should you do to prevent them?

We all know hamstring injuries are pretty common, and many of us have had one that has put us out of action for a few weeks. Typically, we hurt our hamstrings through high speed running or from a strong stretch to the back of the thigh when sliding or falling. Hamstring injuries have a high re-injury rate, which is usually caused by a poor rehabilitation program or returning to sport too early, before the hamstring is fully strengthened.

What is the latest research?

Recent research that has given physiotherapists better ways of assessing and treating hamstring injuries. There seems to be an indication that the way you hurt your hamstring affects the outcome. Basically, if you injure the hamstring in high speed running, it is more likely to be an injury to the biceps femoris part of the muscle (towards the outer, or lateral, thigh) near where the muscle becomes tendon. These injuries recover relatively quickly – within a few weeks for a low-grade strain.

However, if you suffer an over-stretching injury, it is more likely to affect the semimembranosus muscle (the medial, or inner thigh). This type of injury takes a bit longer to heal, even though it may not feel as sore to start with. Finally, there is a suggestion that some hamstring injuries can affect the central tendon of the hamstring and can lengthen rehabilitation time to up to 12 weeks. These are usually the injuries that continuously re-injure and are just really slow to recover.

Learn More: How to reduce your risk of knee and ankle injury by 50%

Recovering from hamstring injuries

We know most hamstring injuries are to the biceps femoris (about 80%) and following injury there is an inhibition to this muscle that means there is a lesser ability to use/activate this muscle because nerve signals aren’t getting through. This leads to a loss of “eccentric” or lengthening strength of the hamstring muscle. Some studies have shown a loss of up to 50% in eccentric strength following injury.

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hamstring injuries

What should you do?

So what does all this nerdy research tell us? Basically, you need a good re-strengthening program and a good understanding of the type of injury you have. The strengthening program should focus on improving the eccentric/lengthening strength of the hamstring which specifically targets the biceps femoris muscle and improves the chances of a successful return to the field.

If you have had a hamstring injury or difficulty returning to sport, contact us here or book an online appointment

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