In focus: Hamstring Injuries

We recently posted about the FIFA 11+ injury prevention initiative, it is now time to look at individual muscle groups that are targeted in this evidence-based program.

Muscle Injuries, Rehabilitation, hamstring injuries


Hamstrings are a two joint muscle extending the hip and bending the knee. In functional terms they are a propulsive muscle when we run, walk and sprint.

Hamstring injuries, hamstrings, muscle tearsThey are susceptible to injury when performing high velocity activities such as sprinting and team sports like rugby and football. That isn’t to say other sporting populations don’t see hamstring injuries. In high velocity sports such as team sports we tend to see more muscle tears through the hamstring complex. Where as in steady state activities such as running and cycling we tend to see more overuse type injuries, that can also be related to lower back or lumbar spine dysfunction.

Hamstring tearsThere are numerous risk factors associated with hamstring injuries; the most significant are previous injury to the hamstrings, hypo-mobility through the muscle unit and weakness through the muscle unit. The one thing that will help reduce these three risk factors is rehabilitation and specific strength training for the hamstrings.

In terms of diagnosis, hamstring injuries can be difficult to pin down due to the possible involvement of the lumbar spine. When the mechanism of injury is related to sprinting activities, diagnosis can be straightforward. However when the mechanism of injury and history of the problem is more complex and related to loading over a period of time, clinicians are often left with multiple areas that could be at fault. In these cases correct diagnosis often depends on the clinical tests, this information can also be combined with an MRI. However, diagnostic imaging is not always essential.

This is where physiotherapists and sports doctors come into their own. They have the necessary knowledge and assessment skills to take account of the factors that contribute to an injury. They then have the scope to help you improve the current problem and further to this reduce it’s likelihood of occurring again.

In the following weeks, our blog will be focusing on the hamstrings in depth, looking at exercises to help get them stronger, ready for a return to sport but also improve them for gains in performance.