Hammy! Hamstring injuries are some of the most common injuries in sports and can be some of the most nagging and difficult to treat. These muscle injuries most often occur in activities and sports that involve sprinting and sudden stops such as track, soccer, and tennis. Also athletes in sports that involve excessive leg stretching such as martial arts or gymnastics can sustain hamstring injuries.
heal. The most severe Grade III injuries involve detachment from the pelvis, often with a small piece of bone, and are referred to as “avulsion injuries”.
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Anatomy The hamstring muscles and tendons are those located on the back of the thigh. Beginning at the pelvis, they stretch down the posterior thigh across the hip and knee joint to attach on the upper tibia. The hamstring muscle group is comprised of the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris. Because of the location and attachment points, they serve to extend the hip and bend the knee.
Symptoms Initial symptoms usually occur very suddenly during activity. These include pain and inability to continue running and sometimes are accompanied a snap or pop. Other symptoms which follow are swelling, bruising, and weakness.
Cause Muscle overload is the reason hamstring injuries occur. As the muscle or tendon is being rapidly stretched during contraction, the force can cause the tissue to fail and tear. These tears can range from mild to severe and are graded I, II, or III. Grade I strains, often called a “pull” are mild and heal easily. Grade II injuries are more serious and take longer to heal. Grade III injuries involve a complete tear and may take months to 10
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Muscle imbalance – this occurs when one muscle group is much stronger than the opposing group; in this case the quadriceps. Increased load on the weaker hamstring muscles cause early fatigue and can lead to a strain Muscle tightness – lack of flexibility in the hamstrings is very common. Stretching is very helpful in eliminating this factor Poor conditioning – lack of physical activity causes generalized weakness leading to a strain during exercise activity Muscle fatigue – prolonged activity makes muscles less responsive and more prone to injury Dehydration – lack of water causes changes in muscle at the cellular level resulting in abnormal contractility and possible injury
DR. MALCOLM J STUBBS M.D. Dr. Stubbs is Board Certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery, a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, and fellowship trained in the field of Sports Medicine and Arthroscopic Surgery.
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