Hamstring strains - Athletic Injuries

Hamstring strains are most common in sprinters, due to the explosive speed involved in the event.

Causes of hamstring strains

The most common cause of a hamstring strain in athletics is a sudden burst of quick movement.

Types of strain

Strains are categorised according to the severity of the injury; grade 1 strains involve minor damage to a small number of muscles fibres, while grade 2 strains involve a partial tear and grade 3 strains imply a complete tear of the muscle.

Symptoms of hamstring strain

In some minor cases, an athlete may not feel the symptoms of a hamstring strain until a period of time after the session is completed. However, in many cases, an athlete will pull up in extreme pain; this will often cause a burning sensation in the muscle. Other symptoms include swelling, a restricted range of movement and bruising (this may not appear immediately).

Treatment for a hamstring strain

Minor strains are usually treated with a combination of rest, ice therapy, medication and physiotherapy; the recovery period will usually take up to 6 weeks. More severe injuries will require surgery; this is common in professional athletes, who are keen to get back into training. Following surgery, the athlete will need to use crutches in order to prevent the muscle from bearing weight. The hamstring should be well-rested; physiotherapy will help to gradually increase the intensity of exercise and strengthen the muscle.

Preventing a hamstring strain

The most effective preventive measure is a thorough warm-up; these will get the muscles warm and prepare the body for physical exertion. Massage therapy and specific stretches and exercises will also help to strengthen the muscles and improve flexibility.

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