by Andrew J Gaetano, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS

The hamstrings make up the primary muscle group responsible extending your hip, and bending the knee. The hamstrings are not one muscle in itself, but it includes a group of 3 muscles along the back of the thigh that connect the pelvis to the leg (Semimembranosus, Semitendinosus, and Biceps Femoris muscles)

A hamstring injury occurs when 1 or more of the 3 hamstring muscles or tendons (a type of soft tissue connecting the muscle to the bone) tear. Depending on how much of a tear will result in more or less significant injury and time to heal. It is especially common in those participating in athletics such as soccer, football, track, or dancing.

After tearing a hamstring muscle, a person is 2 to 6 times more likely to suffer another hamstring injury in the future.

Question is, why do some people pull their hamstring?

1) Inadequate Warm up before activity

When you exercise/warm up, your muscles actually become warmer and more flexible, therefore reducing the chance of tearing them. Think about a piece of gum in a parking lot in the winter vs in the summer. When you step on the gum in the summer (hint- it’s warmer), the gum is much more flexible and “stretchy”- instead of breaking into pieces easily.

2) Muscle Fatigue

If you are participating in a particular sport or activity, it is very important that you train and endurance your body to be able to handle the tasks of that activity. Often times the “weekend warrior” population will sustain an injury for this reason.

3) Muscle Imbalances/Loss of Flexibility

Not just talking about weakness or tightness in the hamstring- but what about all the joints and muscles around the hamstring? I find myself saying this a lot to my patients: The ankle bone is connected the knee bone. Know what the knee bone is connected to? The hip bone. All of these parts of the body have to work together to provide for normal movement. When you have normal movement without the need for compensation/substitutions, you are much less likely to injury a body part.

These are all exactly when we are looking for when we use our Function Movement Screen:

During an evaluation, we would be able to determine the impairment in any of the applicable areas.

4) Previous Hamstring Injury without proper treatment

If you had a hamstring injury in the past and your therapist treated it with ultrasound, massage, biking and stretching- you probably didn’t take care of what actually contributed to the injury in first place.

What can you do if you have an injury to your hamstring?

Within 24-48 hours, you should do your best to remember PRICE: protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation. Ice can be done 3-4x per day for 15-20 minutes (with a towel between the ice pack and your skin).

Don’t wait to get it and see us, the faster we start to implement the right treatment, the faster the healing process will follow. Then we can figure out why you had this injury to avoid future problems.

Did you know? In New York, you don’t need a physicians referral for physical therapy. We can see you for 30 days or 10 visits without one. Also, it will still be covered by insurance in most cases.