If you have made it through the winter sport season without ‘doing a hammy’ well done!
Hamstring strains are not only one of the most common injuries in sports that involve kicking or fast running but also have the highest recurrence rate.
Most injuries to the hamstrings happen when they are working to decelerate the leg when it is at maximal stretch i.e. just before you put your foot down. This is where the muscle is most active working and close to being fully stretched making it the most vulnerable position.
So why do they keep happening?
In most cases simply resting and doing a few stretches is not enough to treat the strain. Seeing a physio so they can do the detective work to find out and address the predisposing factors is important to prevent further problems.
How can you prevent it?
Some of the things that commonly need to be addressed in the person with recurrent hamstring strains include
Strengthening the gluts and adductors (muscle on the inside of your leg) as these muscle help the hammy out so will prevent it being overloaded.
Eccentric strengthening programmes because this is how the hammy is working (to decelerate your leg) when a strain or tear usually happen. This functional strengthening involves loading the muscle while it lengthens such as in the Nordic exercise Mark has explained in a previous post.
Stability of the low back and pelvis area are important in ensuring the hammy’s are being used most efficiently. Having good proprioception around the knee and ankle is also important and particularly needs to be addressed if you have had previous ankle or knee injuries.
If you sit at work all day low back stiffness is very likely to be a predisposing factor for hamstring injuries as the main nerve supply for the muscle comes from this area.
As with most things prevention is better than cure so if you spent half your season this year trying to stretch out a recurrent hamstring niggle, now is the best time to come in and get any of these underlying problems sorted!