Pulled Hamstring Muscle

From tennis players to soccer players to runners, hamstring pulls are an injury which often can be prevented.

The hamstring muscle, located on the back of the thigh, is made up of three muscles: the bicep femoris, semitendinosus, and the semimembranosus muscles. Although all may be involved in a hamstring strain, it may be more isolated to the inside muscles (semitendinosus and semitendinosus) or to the outside muscle (biceps femoris).

A hamstring strain occurs when unusual stress is placed on the hamstring muscle resulting in varying degrees of tearing of the muscle fibres and supporting tissue framework. The most common occurrence is in sports involving sprinting and jumping. The following factors predispose an athlete to a hamstring strain:

  • Insufficient flexibility – the hamstrings are stretched beyond their ability to elongate
  • Too great a force production at an inappropriate time
  • Insufficient warm-up and stretching before an activity
  • Poor running style – overstriding may stretch the hamstring beyond normal lengths
  • Inadequate hamstring strength – an imbalance between the hamstrings and quadriceps which may result in the hamstrings being unable to generate force to counteract the force of the quadriceps
  • Inequality of hamstring strength of the right and left legs may also precipitate strain of the weaker muscles
  • Local fatigue can play a factor as it reduces the strength and flexibility of the muscle
  • Recurrent injury due to return to physical activity too quickly following an injury and prior to full rehabilitation.

The best treatment program is prevention by ensuring adequate flexibility and strength of the hamstrings. Complete rehabilitation (full strength and flexibility) before returning to competition is important in decreasing recurrent injury. Strengthening can be done on the weight training machines doing various forms of leg curls (bending knee to bring heel toward buttock). Including these exercises in your warm-up schedule will assist in the prevention of a hamstring strain and improve your overall health.

  ham1.jpgSeated Hamstring Stretch (r.leg)
Place the leg to be stretched straight out. Keep the knee straight. Bend the opposite knee in. Pull the foot of the outstretched leg toward you. Lean forward toward your leg by bending at your waist.
  ham2.jpgSeated Hamstring Stretch (both legs)
Place both legs straight out. Pull your feet toward you, keeping both knees straight. Lean forward toward your legs by bending at your waist.
  ham3.jpgStanding Hamstring Stretch (r.leg)
The leg being stretched is extended straight out. The toes are pulled up toward you. The opposite knee is bent and takes about 75% of the body weight. Again, stretch by bending forward at the waist.

Stretches should be held for 15 to 20 seconds and done 3 to 5 times on each side before and after workouts and more frequently if a hamstring strain is present.