Remember two years ago when Andre De Grasse injured his hamstring and had to miss the world championships? It surely was a setback to the sprinter’s career, and although classified as a Grade 2 hamstring strain, it required up to 6 weeks of rehab for the muscle to fully heal.
What are hamstring injuries and how do they affect your movement? Let’s take a closer look.
Hamstring Muscle Injuries
The hamstring muscles comprise a group of three muscles situated at the back of your thigh, which connect the hip to the knee. This group of muscles enables you to bend your knee and stretch your leg, promoting flexibility and an improved range of motion. If one of these muscles is pulled or stretched beyond its limit, a hamstring muscle injury occurs.
What the Symptoms Look Like
If any of the hamstring muscles are pulled, you’re likely to experience:
- Sudden, sharp pain in the back of your thigh
- Muscle weakness that can last for weeks
- Swelling and soreness after a few hours
- Tearing or popping sensation
- Bruising or discoloration below the knee
- Difficulty in shifting your weight onto the injured leg
What Are The Risk Factors?
While hamstring injuries are extremely common and may affect anyone, certain individuals are more prone to them. Common risk factors include:
- Sports participation:It’s no secret, athletes and individuals who actively partake in sports are more likely to receive hamstring injuries. Sports that involve running, sprinting, and extreme stretching of the leg muscles are a major cause of these injuries.
- Muscle imbalance:This happens when one muscle group is stronger than its opposing group. Often, the quadriceps muscles located at the front of the thigh are stronger and more powerful than the hamstrings at the back. This can cause the hamstring muscles to become fatigued quicker than the quadriceps during exercise, causing strain.
- Poor muscle flexibility:If your hamstring muscles don’t have the strength to stretch and flex, then they won’t be able to cope up with the physical exertion and stress during exercise. As a result, they’re likely to get injured more frequently.
- Prior hamstring injury:Individuals who’ve already had one hamstring injury are more susceptible to another one. This is especially true for athletes who resume strenuous exercise and training sessions after rehabilitation, putting their newly healed muscles at risk again.
How Can Hamstring Injuries Be Treated?
Typically, hamstring injuries don’t require invasive treatment procedures such as surgeries. The RICE protocol is often quite effective for these injuries, which stands for “rest”, “Ice’, “compression”, and “elevation”.
However, further treatment may be required for more severe and stubborn injuries, for which the RICE method alone isn’t sufficient. PRP injection therapy may then be used to relieve pain and discomfort, and promote a speedy recovery.
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