Hamstring Tears

What is it? Hamstring Tears

The hamstrings are a large group of muscles found at the back of the thigh. The primary role of these muscles is to bend the knee and collectively, these muscles are some of the strongest in the body. Despite their strength, the hamstrings are very prone to injury especially when overworked or undertrained. Hamstring strains and tears are quite common in sports that involving sprinting, jumping and sudden changes in speed. Football and soccer players are some of the athletes most commonly affected by hamstring tears.

Hamstring strains are categorized into three grades:

Grade 1 (mild) – A few muscle fibers are either damaged or ruptured; there may be pain a day
after the injury but no loss of movement.

Grade 2 (moderate) – Roughly half of the muscle fibers are torn; there may be acute pain and mild
loss of function; walking may be affected. Grade 3 (severe) – More than half of the muscle fibers
are ruptured and there is immense pain and swelling; definite muscle weakness and loss of
function.

Grade 3 (severe) – More than half of the muscle fibers are ruptured and there is immense pain
and swelling; definite muscle weakness and loss of function.

What are the symptoms of Hamstring Tears?

The symptoms of a hamstring tear depend on the severity of the injury. Common symptoms
include pain at the back of the thigh – which could range from mild to severe, swelling, bruising, loss of knee motion, tenderness at the back of the thigh, reduced length and muscle weakness of the hamstring.

In some cases, tingling, numbness and  weakness of the structures below the knee
are seen. However, these are rare.

What are the causes of Hamstring Tears?

A single cause of hamstring tears can be difficult to determine however, it is thought that a lack of coordination between the hamstrings and quadriceps muscles during sudden changes of speed or when kicking can cause the hamstrings to contract excessively or become overstretched, causing a tear.

There are also recognised risk factors, that increase the possibility of hamstring tears including increased age, fatigue, strength imbalance, previous injury of the hamstrings, poor core stability, poor hamstrings flexibility and tight hip flexors.

How can they be prevented?

Understandably, trying to prevent hamstring tears is important business. Research has
consistently shown that the most important factor in preventing hamstring tears is having high eccentric strength in the hamstrings. Eccentric muscle contractions occur when a muscle is contracting while also lengthening.

For example, when you lower your straightened leg slowly to the ground, your quadriceps muscle will be working eccentrically.

Disclaimer

Your physiotherapists is able to show you some exercises that can target eccentric muscle strength specifically as well as identifying any risk factors that may be contributing to you individual risk.

None of the information in this newsletter is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual condition.

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Shawn is the best physio I have ever been to, and I continue to go back to him to get me over my many injuries so that I can get back playing. I like Shawn because he knows I'm not going to stop playing my sports, and he takes a practical approach to getting me back playing as quickly as possible. Shawn has a broad background to bring to the table in terms of treatment options, and his experience at recognizing injuries, human physiology, body mechanics, and the symptoms, treatment, future prevention and rehabilitation is second to none. For me personally, I like that Shawn understands I need an "aggressive" approach to the treatment required to overcome my injuries - this is refreshing because other physios I have attended previously I always felt were treating my injuries and pain threshold with kid gloves which resulted in lengthy absences from playing my sports. I like that Shawn is hyper focused on getting me back playing as soon as possible, and even recognizes I may play when I'm not supposed to. He just rolls with it! Love it.

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Action Sports Clinic