Hamstring injuries are perhaps the most commonly seen injury in our field sports. They have a high reoccurrence rate and it’s not uncommon to have a player attend clinic complaining that they suffer a hamstring injury at least once a season. On average a hamstring tear will result in a three week absence from play with more severe tears resulting in a significantly longer absence from the sport. It’s not surprising then that many athletes arrive exasperated to the clinic with their dreaded recurring hamstring injury.
In attempting to rehabilitate a chronically injured hamstring it’s important to understand how the hamstring works during sprinting and the stage at which it’s likely to tear. We can then tailor treatment specifically to the stage of sprinting at which hamstring tears occur and address weakness and lack of flexibility at this point.
For example, it’s extremely common that a hamstring will rupture as it acts in an eccentric fashion. That means that the hamstring is lengthening as a load is applied to it. This occurs in sprinting as the knee extends in the stride before the heel makes contact with the ground. Very often a hamstring will rupture at this point and result in a sharp stabbing pain subsequently as the foot connects with the ground and attempts to bear weight.
If we identify that this is the problem then we can strengthen the hamstring in an eccentric fashion, and remedy this weakness. After a successful rehabilitation programme of eccentric strengthening we should have a stronger hamstring, we should have a less injury prone hamstring and we should have a very happy athlete. Our favourite eccentric hamstring exercises are the nordic drops demonstrated at our clinic here. Have a look.