05 Oct Hamstring Strain
Hamstring strain is not only the most common injury across all sports, but also the most recurrent. Your biggest risk factor in getting a hamstring strain is having a history of hamstring strain! In other words when you’ve had it once, the chance of recurrence is high. But why is this?
However, recurrent hamstring injury was the area I did my Master’s research on, and it seems that there are many potential reasons for this risk of reccurence. For example, the hamstrings are part of a key stabilisation mechanism of the pelvis during walking and running, so if there are any issues at the pelvis, such as restrictions where the pelvis meets the spine, or compromised function of other muscles that stabilise the pelvis, then the hamstrings may be at greater risk of injury or re-injury.
The bigger question, really, is why did the hamstring muscle get injured in the first instance? A common scenario is that the lower abdominal muscles work together with the hamstrings to counteract the effect of gravity, which is always attempting to tip the pelvis forwards. If, for some reason, the lower abdominal muscles are deconditioned or inhibited (as can happen with a history of low back pain or with certain conditions affecting the organs, such as IBS or PMS), this can increase risk of injury in the first place. Of course, if these possibilities are not assessed for, or addressed (ie if the hamstring is just rubbed, stretched, strengthened to aid recovery), then the original cause has not yet been tackled and repetitive injuries become more likely.
There are many possible drivers of hamstring strain, and commonly it will not be just one driver that causes the injury but, more likely, the combination of many smaller factors that end up creating a large overload on the muscle. Here are a list of some of the areas I would assess and address if someone comes to see me with a hamstring injury – and especially if it is recurrent:
- Foot mechanics
- Motor control at the hip
- Lumbo-pelvic mobility and stability
- Movement strategy (eg quad dominance)
- Shoulder function
- Head posture
- TMJ (jaw joint) function
- Physiological load (overall stress on the body)
In my webinar, called “The Hamstring Insight“, I go into more detail on a number of these mechanisms and include 2 papers that I have written on the topic as freebies! The contents of these papers and webinar have been presented to the rehabilitation teams at all of the Premiership and other professional football teams in the UK, and I have consulted for several of these teams to share these insights.
If you’d like to learn more about these potential contributing factors or to assess them in your own body, I have put links in the bullet point list above which should allow you to learn more about how to optimise your function.
There is also lots of great free information about hamstring rehabilitation and recovery in my FC2O Podcast with Peter Horobin on the topic [LINK].
If you’d like to book an appointment for consultation, or to contact me with any questions, please email me here. If you’d prefer to do as much as you can yourself (which I encourage), I have provided several resources above, and more insights into calculating the overall stress on your system – and what to do about it – can be found here