The hamstring muscle group includes three distinct muscles: the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and the semimembranosus.
Of the three muscles in the hamstring the biceps femoris is the most likely to be injured. The straining or tearing of the long head of the biceps femoris muscle occurs particularly in athletes that perform quick acceleration or cutting in sports like football, soccer, and tennis.
Some factors that can predispose an athlete to hamstring strains are insufficient warm-up, fatigue, poor muscular coordination, excessive pelvis tilt, prior hamstring injury and imbalance in muscle strength between hamstring and quadriceps.
The athlete often becomes aware of the injury hearing or feeling a pop in the area of the hamstrings followed by immediate pain in the posterior.
Diagnosis of a hamstring injury is made primarily by obtaining details of the cause of the injury from the athlete and by performing a physical examination.
Recovery can occur as quickly as one week to six weeks or more depending on the grade of the strain.
During the first phase of treatment hamstring strains follow the guidelines most soft tissue injuries follow; Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
About 7-8 days after the injury the second phase begins. Most experts agree that electrical stimulation, passive range of motion, myofascial release, and isometric exercises can be introduced.
The third phase occurs anywhere from one to six weeks after initial injury. Some of the stretching and strengthening exercises should include hip rotation. This is important because many of the sports require rotation, cutting, and change of direction.
The final phase of treatment is returning the athlete back to play. This includes sport specific movements, increasing hamstring strength and flexibility.
To prevent recurrence of the injury, the athlete should continue regular stretching and strengthening and should always warm up properly. Hamstring and hip stretching and continued strengthening of the quadriceps and hamstrings will help prevent re-injury.
One of the greatest risk for hamstring strain is prior hamstring strain, so complete and continued rehabilitation is necessary.
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