What is Hamstring Strain?
To understand hamstring injuries, we must understand what hamstrings are and their role in our bodies. Hamstrings are groups of muscles running down the back of our legs and thighs. The three main hamstring muscles are – the semimembranosus, the biceps femoris, and the semitendinosus. When these muscles are strained too much, they tear.
That’s why whenever your leg muscles get overloaded, the risk of you suffering from a hamstring strain increases. People who experience such strains do so while participating in activities that involve a lot of sprinting, dashing, running, jumping, and other sudden movements.
This condition is technically a muscle strain injury that athletes in soccer, football, track, etc., often suffer from. Damages to the hamstring group of muscles are classified based on their severity. Minor strains are categorized as “Grade I tear.” They tend to be mild and heal fully, causing minor pain to the injured.
A “Grade II tear” is one where the hamstrings are partially ruptured or torn. The muscle or tendon fibers are overstretched and on the brink of complete rupture. A “Grade III tear” is when the hamstrings rupture completely. Irrespective of the Grade, hamstring damages can be severe and incapacitating for patients.
Hamstrings are groups of muscles running down the back of our legs and thighs. The three main hamstring muscles are – the semimembranosus, the biceps femoris, and the semitendinosus. When these muscles are strained too much, they tear.
Since our hamstrings support most of our physical movements (walking, jumping, stretching), they instantly limit our mobility when they become tight. When it comes to Grade III tears, we don’t need symptoms. Patients instantly notice a popping sound in their legs, and that means their hamstrings are completely ruptured.
In Grade I tears, the patients’ leg muscles can feel stiff, even after resting. Such stiffness increases the risk of higher-grade injuries. Patients must visit a physiotherapist to learn about the health of their hamstrings if they experience symptoms such as:
If these symptoms worsen over time, the damaged muscles are not fully healing on their own. To ensure your “Grade I tear” doesn’t become “Grade II,” you must visit a licensed physiotherapist.
The main cause of this condition is the hamstring muscle fibers becoming over-strained or abruptly stretched due to physical activities. People experience a “pull” in their legs. They can feel this “pull” anywhere in their muscle-tendon anatomy. Some common reasons why people suffer from hamstring injuries are –
In “Grade I” strains, people usually don’t remember or recognize the actual cause of the injury. The onset of pain is gradual and nonspecific. “Grade II” strains occur during acute events, and victims instantly experience sharp pain in the back of their thighs. “Grade III” strains are mostly caused because of athletic injuries.
Patients with hamstring injuries can visit general-medicine doctors, primary care physicians, and experts specializing in athletic injuries. They can also visit physiatrists or physical therapists who specialize in treating tight hamstrings. Their non-surgical treatments can loosen the muscles. Patients shouldn’t waste time visiting these experts if -
If these symptoms occur, they may indicate serious injuries. The damage to their hamstrings may worsen over time. People who experience these symptoms after sporting injuries or physical accidents must seek medical attention.
The main risk factor for this condition is quick muscle contractions during bursts of speed. That’s the most prominent risk of hamstring injuries. Whenever you forcefully stretch your quadriceps and hamstring muscles, they are at risk of damage and rupture. People who are at most risks of these strains include:
Since these injuries are often caused due to factors that are hard to quantify (tight muscles, poor flexibility, etc.), we cannot prevent all hamstring injury risks. But, by taking some steps, you can become less prone to these injuries -
Moderate hamstring injuries can heal independently as long as patients rest their legs and apply ice to the damaged areas to reduce pain and swelling. Repeat these home remedies until the pain is gone. If the pain persists, visit a physiotherapist. These professionals -
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries and Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) injuries also happen in the thigh and knee areas. ACL, MCL, and hamstring injuries are very common ailments for athletes.