Loudoun County, Va. — There have been numerous times athletes have grabbed the back of their leg and hobbled off the field or court in pain. This is often because they’ve pulled their hamstring muscle.
What is the hamstring and why is it injured so often?
The hamstring complex is made up of three muscles that originate from the ischial tuberosity (bone in the buttock region), proceeds down the back of our leg, and then crosses the knee on either side. It is therefore considered a two-joint muscle. It is most common for people to strain or injure a hamstring in the thick part of the muscle, or where the muscle and tendon merge.
The most common hamstring injuries are due to muscle overload. People that participate in football, soccer, basketball, and sprinting/running tend to injure the hamstring more often. In addition, kids that are going through growth spurts may also have issues with the hamstring because their bones are growing faster than their muscles. The muscles are therefore pulled tight and one sudden quick move can cause an injury.
How do you know if you have an injury to the hamstring?
Most of the time, you will see the following signs:
- Swelling at the site of the injury
- Discoloration/bruising behind the leg
- The bruising will go further down past the knee because gravity will pull down the blood and fluid
- You will also notice weakness in the leg, which is most evident when using stairs, changing positions, and walking
How to recover from hamstring injuries
Recovering from a hamstring injury can take a long time. Immediately after the injury occurs, you will want to initiate RICE:
- Rest from any activity that increases the pain.
- Ice the area.
- Provide compression to the area to keep down swelling.
- Elevate the leg to reduce swelling.
After this, physical therapy can be started to restore the range of motion, strength and guide you in returning to daily activities without further injury. Many people try to return to sports or activities too soon and risk further injury, which will sideline you for a much longer period of time.
Note from our sponsor: Physical therapy will enable you to recover quicker and return to activity safely! If you or someone you know is dealing with a hamstring problems whether that be a pulled muscle or some general tightness or weakness, call our office TODAY at 703-450-4300 to schedule your evaluation.