Hamstrings tear – a diagnosis to complete recovery

  • Most hamstrings tears occur in the mid belly of the muscle, about halfway between the hip and knee
  • Muscle tears occur suddenly but it’s not uncommon to have some tightness or fatigue in the muscle preceding the tear
  • The most vulnerable actions for the hamstrings are rapid deceleration (slowing down) and rapid acceleration from a standing start
  • Hamstrings injuries are prone to becoming recurrent injuries for a number of reasons (we wrote a post about the most common reasons here)

TIPS

  • The most effective initial management of a hamstrings tear is compression, using a compression bandage or even compression tights
  • Avoid any stretching or lengthened positions, including elevating the leg in sitting, during the first week after injury
  • The hamstrings muscle significantly increases its contribution to movement as the speed of the movement increases. All rehab programs should gradually build in faster movements in sports-specific positions
  • About 70% of hamstrings tears have concurrent nerve irritations, either as a causative factor or as a result of the injury. Testing for and identifying nerve issues early is crucial for effective management

MYTHS

  • Hamstring curls in standing or prone positions are almost pointless as the muscle is not designed to function effectively in that position
  • Jogging without pain is not a good indicator of readiness to return to sport. Building towards and testing rapid acceleration/deceleration, jumping and running hills are a better indication of readiness (although all testing should also include sports-specific activities)
  • Stretching is not an effective method of improving muscle shortening. Use strength exercises that move into lengthened positions to help the muscle adapt its length based on functional demands
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