Remember last year’s 4x100m relay race at the IAAF World Championships in London, when the Olympic champion and world record holder Usain Bolt tore his left hamstring injury in the final race of his career and had to exit the track via a wheelchair? Hamstring injuries are that bad and every sportsperson carries a risk of getting it injured at some point. They are the most common injury in sports which accounts for 37% of the muscular injuries observed in a sport worldwide.
Before getting into the details, let’s understand what are the hamstring muscles, what do hamstrings do and how do they get injured?
What is Hamstring?
The anatomy of the hamstring muscle group consists of three main muscles: the bicep femoris, semimembranosus and semitendinosus that originate from the lower part of the pelvis, traverse the back of the thigh and attach around the knee, providing excellent stability to the knee as well as the power to flex the knee and resist extension of the knee. Therefore, running (especially sprinting), cutting and kicking sports athletes are more prone to develop hamstring injury.
When the hamstring muscle trios get over-stretched or undergo too much strain or rapidly contracts against resistance, they tear or cramp up which is common in running, soccer or basketball. It can be anything a pull, a partial tear, or a complete tear. Hamstring injuries are classified as Grades I, II or III according to their severity. Grade I is mild and usually heals readily, grade 2 hamstring tear is a partial tear of the muscle itself while grade 3 is a complete rupture of the muscle and a catastrophic career-ending injury where the tendon tears completely away from the bone and may even pull a piece of bone away with it which is called an avulsion injury. Swelling, bruising or discoloration, weakness are the signs of a hamstring injury.
Causes Of Pulled hamstring
- Pulled hamstring or hamstring stretch occurs majorly due to muscle overload. Also, when you extend or stretch your leg while it is weighted, or loaded, your muscle lengthens as it contracts, or shortens and cause a strain in your hamstring.
- Apart from athletes, the risk of pulled hamstring is also high in water skiing, weight lifting, dancing and ice-skating
- Tight muscles due to lack of daily physical activity are vulnerable to hamstring injuries
- An imbalance or fatigue in muscles
- Increasing age can increase the risk of a hamstring injury
- Muscles or spinal degeneration can also lead to hamstring problems
How to heal a hamstring injury quickly?
Acute hamstring injuries can be treated with the traditional method rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) which when combined with Ultrasound i.e. U.R.I.C.E can heal even chronic hamstring injuries from the root cause quickly and without any side effects. Other than that, you can make use of hamstring wrap to get some instant pain relief. You can also seek the help of some recovery hamstring exercises but make sure to practice it under expert guidance because hamstring injury needs extreme care to recover. You must give your body proper rest and allow the tear and the tissue to heal fully or else re-injuries can occur and destroy your sports career forever.