Hamstring Injuries are an extremely common soft tissue injury seen in field sport such as hockey, football, hurling, soccer and rugby. Some research suggests that hamstring injuries account for as much as 17 – 25 % of all GAA injuries at inter-county level.
The hamstring muscle group is a group of three “rope-like” muscles on the back of the thigh. They are called the semimembranosus, semitendinosus and biceps femoris. They arise at the ischial tuberosity – the bony prominence that we sit on when we sit upright with a correct posture – and travel down the back of the leg ending just below the knee. The hamstrings act to bend the knee and extend the hip. They are extremely important in deceleration of your leg as you run just before it strikes the ground, and are likely to injure just at this point. In high intensity running and particularly in field sports with bursts of acceleration and deceleration they are more prone to injury. Hockey players similarly, due to the low positions that they take up during their sport, are susceptible to chronic hamstring injury.
Injuries to the hamstrings range from simple strains in any of the three muscles, to complete tears. Immediate management of acute hamstring strains revolve around the PRICE principle, as for all soft tissue injuries. We should Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. Deep tissue work and transverse friction massage, though painful, are necessary later on in order to realign deep fibres of the affected hamstring muscle following injury and to minimise the effect of scar tissue. Other treatment modalities such as dry needling and electrotherapy may also facilitate a speedier return to activity.
In chronic recurring hamstring injuries there is commonly a degree of tendonitis of the hamstring tendons as they insert into the ischial tuberosity. This is often felt as pain in the bottom while sitting and is particularly painful on sitting on hard chairs.
In these cases a more comprehensive rehabilitation programme including an eccentric loading component will be necessary to fully resolve the issue. Read more and watch a demonstration of effective hamstring rehabilitation in our blog post: Successful Treatment of Hamstring Injuries.