Hamstring Muscle Strain/Pull
The upper leg muscles provide your knees with movement (extension, flexion and rotation) and strength. The hamstring muscles are located on the back of your thigh. They work closely with your quadriceps muscles (front of your thigh), your gluteal muscles, and your calf muscles to ensure proper movement of your leg and hip.
The hamstrings are used but not stressed when used in common everyday motions like walking and standing, therefore, individuals who are not very active may not notice if they have weak hamstring muscles. However, well conditioned and flexible hamstring muscles are very important to athletes to stabilize the knees and prevent hamstring pain and hamstring injury.
Your hamstring muscles control movement of your body, hip and knee, help turn your leg in and out, and are involved with power activities that include a lot of propulsion, thrust and control (such as jumping, running, and walking). The muscles act as a brake to stop an action, you can feel this when walking or running downhill, landing from jumps or performing squats, and when trying to stop quickly after sprinting.
The hamstrings refer to 3 long posterior (back of leg) thigh muscles, the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. These muscles start at the bottom of your pelvis extending down the back of your thigh and along either side of your knee, to your lower leg bones.
The lateral hamstring is the biceps femoris (made up of 2 parts - a short head and long head) and the medial hamstrings are the semitendinosus (joins the sartorius muscle and gracilis muscle at the pes anserinus on the tibia) and the semimembranosus (the largest hamstring muscle). The tendons (tough fibers that connect muscle to bone) for these muscles begin at the bony bump under each buttock, known as your "sit bone" (ischial tuberosity) and attach on the outer edges of your shinbone (your tibia and fibula) just below the back of your knee. They help to stabilize your knee. Your hamstrings also have a lot of soft connective tissue and are innervated by your sciatic nerve.
The posterior upper leg muscles provide your knees with mobility (extension, flexion and rotation) and strength. They work closely with your quadriceps muscles at the front of your thigh, your gluteal muscles, and your calf muscles to ensure proper movement of your leg and hip.
The biceps femoris hamstring muscle is the most frequently injured, as it suffers the largest stretch during sprinting, followed by the semitendinosus muscle. If you have a multi-muscle injury, it normally occurs at the point where your hamstring muscles and tendons meet (musculotendinous junction) at the top of the hamstring muscles. However, hamstring pulls can also occur at any place along the hamstring muscle bellies or in the tendons that attach the muscles to the bones.
A hamstring strain or hamstring sprain is soft tissue damage that causes pain and inflammation. These injuries can be caused by an acute injury in which the tissue is stretched or twisted beyond the limits or by a chronic injury that occurs with excessive use over time. The type of tissue that is damaged will determines whether the hamstring is sprained or strained. Learn the difference between strain and sprain here.
Hamstring Injury Treatments
Hamstring injuries can be frustrating to live with and difficult to healing. The healing process takes time and you may find it difficult to give your leg the rest it needs. This is especially true for runners and other athletes that return to their sport too early. Re-injury is common but it prolongs recovery and may also lead to permanent damage and other conditions.
Treating your hamstring injury correctly is essential to getting rid of your pain and restoring function to your hamstring muscles and tendons. Proper treatment will get you back to regular activities sooner, stop your pain, and reduce the risk of future re-injury.
To restore strength and range of motion in your hamstrings, treatment should focus on preventing scar tissue formation and muscle atrophy (shrinkage and weakening of the muscle). This requires rest and the appropriate therapies at the right time. Almost all types of hamstring pulls and tears (except a complete hamstring rupture) can be properly treated with trusted therapies that are available for use at home. Complete ruptures usually require surgery. However, using these home therapies after surgery can help speed recovery, improve function, and increase range of motion in your hamstrings.
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During your recovery, you will probably have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort at the location of your soft tissue injury until the pain and inflammation settle. Always consult your doctor and/or Physical Therapist before using any of our outstanding products, to make sure they are right for you and your condition. The more diligent you are with your treatment and rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results!
Living with pain is never easy and we encourage you to call us with any questions you have related to your hamstring injury. We will do our best to help.
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