When you think hamstrings what comes to mind? Tightness? I can’t touch my toes? I tore mine and it’s never been the same? The hamstrings are important muscles that people unfortunately do tend to associate with tightness and hamstring injuries. However, it’s not all doom and gloom – if looked after properly, your hamstrings will love you and look after you!!
Where is your hamstring?
The ‘hamstrings’ refer to a group of 4 muscles on the back of the thigh that help to bend the knee and straighten the hip. Because they help to move two joints (not just one), they are doubly as important to look after, as they have more opportunity for injury. The hamstrings play a large role in controlling the hip and knee during running, kicking, bending and lifting.
Hamstring injuries occur predominantly during high-speed running or excessive stretching movements like kicking a football or positions where the hip is bent and the knee is straight. Hamstring injuries also have a lot to do with load – predominantly running load. This basically refers to the volume and intensity of running you’re doing in a set time period, how far and how fast you’re running. Significant or sudden changes in your run load can predispose the hamstrings to injury.
When hamstrings get injured, unfortunately there is a high risk of reoccurrence – meaning if you tear your hamstring once there’s a strong chance you’ll tear it again if you don’t do anything about it. Which means it is doubly important to properly rehabilitate your hamstrings if you do injure them.
How can a physiotherapist help?
Physiotherapists can guide you through this rehabilitation process, optimising your body’s healing, providing the right exercises, progression and load increases for your specific goals.
Arguably more important than rehabilitation is PREhabilitation – what you can do to PREvent a hamstring injury. Specific exercises, stretches, warm up and cool down movements can help to strengthen and bulletproof your hamstrings to prevent injury. Speak to your Physiotherapist about tailoring a program specific to you!