Are you a person that plays sport involving explosive running? Hamstring injuries are prevalent in most fast paced sports that involve sprinting and jumping. In fact, they are the most frequently occurring injury in the AFL, accounting for 19% of all injuries, and result in the most matches missed of any injury in the sport. A hamstring strain or tear is caused by a rapid contraction or stretch of the hamstring muscle group, which can result in a varying degree of rupture within the muscle tissue. The biggest risk for a hamstring injury is a previous hamstring injury, especially one that was poorly managed. Appropriate rehabilitation should be commenced as soon as pain levels allow exercise to begin.
How do you prevent a hamstring injury?
One important factor of hamstring rehabilitation and injury prevention is to strengthen your hamstrings eccentrically. An eccentric contraction is when the muscle is lengthening under load. Training using exercises that require eccentric contractions means that your muscle is better prepared to produce and withstand forces during explosive movements therefore reducing the risk of injury. This is because you have trained and strengthened your muscle to resist, smooth out and control movement happening in the opposite direction to a concentric (shortening) muscle contraction.
Below are three exercises you can use to strengthen your hamstrings to prevent injury:
How can Physiotherapists help if you have a hamstring injury?
- Diagnose the degree of the strain/tear
- Provide appropriate exercises for rehabilitation
- Provide advice on load management
- Provide a comprehensive return to sport plan
- Apply taping
Always see a physiotherapist if you have injured your hamstring, as a poorly rehabilitated hamstring muscle is more susceptible to recurrent injuries.