As winter sports begin, so does the potential risk of associated injuries. Sports that require sprinting, kicking, acceleration and change of direction have an increased risk of participants developing soft tissue injuries, specifically hamstring injuries.
What causes hamstring injuries?
Hamstring injuries are most commonly caused through activities requiring high acceleration and stretching. Approximately 70% of hamstring injuries are caused through high speed acceleration, where the other 30% are usually through increased stretching (over stretch/rapid stretching) of the hamstring muscles.
There are potential risk factors and predisposing indicators that can increase the likelihood of a potential hamstring injury. These risk factors can include:
- Previous hamstring history
- Increasing age
- Muscular strength imbalances between quadriceps, hamstring and gluteals
- Decreased flexibility
What is the best way to prevent hamstring injuries?
Before an initial injury:
If you haven’t injured your hamstring before, then GREAT!! To keep preventing and decreasing the likelihood of an initial injury it is best to:
- Warm Up and Cool Down:
Conducting an effective warm up (active/dynamic stretching) and cool down (static stretching) helps the body adapt, get ready and recover from your chosen exercise/sport/activity
(see our blog on stretching here)
- Attending pre season training:
A big mistake unfortunately is to rock up to your first night of training the week of Round 1. This can cause your body to be over worked and increases the likelihood that your body will not adapt to the impact of your sport/exercise. It is best to attend pre season training as early as possible, go at your own speed initially and allow your body time to process the impact of the sport on your body.
- Seek professional help:
Go and see your osteopath to get a personalised treatment plan to allow your body to best prepare and recover from your chosen sport as the season commences.
If unfortunately, you’ve had/or have a hamstring injury, the highest chance of reoccurrence is in the first 2-4 weeks of full competitive sport.
Initially, after a suspected hamstring injury, you should use the R.I.C.E.R. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Referral ) method in the first 48 hours, then book into your osteopath to get fully assessed, and a prescribed treatment/management plan to get back into your chosen sport. This will involve stages building you back up to your pre-injury fitness, including stretching, strengthening, resolving imbalances and retraining the hamstring to work in the sporting environment.
DeWitt, J., & Vidale, T. (2014). Recurrent hamstring injury: consideration following operative and non-operative management. International journal of sports physical therapy, 9(6), 798-812. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4223289/
Karim, K. (2013). Managing hamstring tears – a physiotherapist’s personal story as a patient. https://blogs.bmj.com/bjsm/2013/06/27/managing-hamstring-tears/