By Lisa Zelenka – Physiotherapist
I get asked this question frequently by people who have recently injured their hamstring, so let’s talk about it. Have you ever had a sharp pain in the back of you leg after a heavy sprint session?
Hamstring muscle injuries are one of the most common injuries across a number of sports, including soccer and AFL. They account for approximately 12-16% of all injuries. They are typically torn or strained during high-speed running, jumping, kicking or during a sliding tackle. Sprinting studies suggest that the hamstrings are most vulnerable when attempting to decelerate and control knee extension in preparation for foot strike. But good news folks, these type of injuries have good return to sport outcomes.
So what do I do if I tear my hammy?
There is often a lot of swelling and so the first goal is to manage this without compromising leg function. During the first few days it’s important to include ice, compression, elevation, and a short period of immobilisation (depending on the severity of the tear). For example, applying ice for 10-15 minutes every 3-4 hours and applying compression with an elastic bandage or tubigrip for the first few days until the acute symptoms settle.
During the first few days it would be beneficial to be assessed by a Physiotherapist to determine the severity of the injury. A physio can provide appropriate treatment and reduce the chances of the injury recurring as most muscle injuries are preventable.
So if most muscle strains are preventable, what can I do to reduce the risk of a muscle tear?
Recent studies have suggested that Nordic exercises, a balance program, and soft tissue therapy may help prevent hamstring injuries. Here are some tips you can try at home to minimise the risk of injuring your hamstring.
Assisted Nordic Drops:
1 – Kneel on soft surface with knee, hip and ankles aligned and toes pointed
2 – Have someone hold the athlete’s ankles firmly to the mat or hook their ankles under a suitable support
3 – The athlete places the band under their arms and across the top of their chest
4 – The athletes then lowers towards the floor whilst keeping the lower back taunt, chest upright, neck in neutral and shoulders relaxed. Allow yourself to be lowered until there is a stretch in the hamstring.
Tip: increasing band tension increases the difficulty of the exercise
A video example of how to perform nordic hamstring exercise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Duyv2wYnCO8
Have you torn your hamstring and are unsure of what to do next? Get in touch with us today – We’re here to help!
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(Please keep in mind, these are general guidelines for the majority of athletes. It is important to consult with your doctor or physiotherapist first and make sure you have a plan tailored specifically for you).