A hamstring strain is a soft tissue injury involving the muscles behind the thigh. It is commonly experienced by athletes who employ powerful or high impact activities involving the legs leading to a tear or overuse injury on the hamstring muscles.
The hamstring muscles consist of three specific muscles that form the muscle group responsible for the flexion of the knees. They run down the back of the thighs from the pelvic area to the lower portion of the legs. Since the hamstring muscles are commonly used, an overuse injury may result to the pulling or rupture of the muscles leading to hamstring strain.
The most common event that leads to hamstring strain is the presence of eccentric contraction of the muscles during running activities. Eccentric contraction happens when the hamstrings contract as the foot hits the ground. This eccentric contraction when overly done commonly leads to hamstring strain. Also, the presence of a direct blow to the hamstring muscles while they remain contracted is also a cause for hamstring strain. A blow from a ball or any object may lead to the rupture of the hamstring muscles yielding various symptoms.
There are several causes of hamstring strain. Specific causes include:
- Working out beyond limits
When the hamstring muscles remain in eccentric contradiction for prolonged periods, it leads to tearing and strain of the muscle group.
- Weak gluteal muscles
When the muscles along the butt are weak, the hamstring muscles tend to work more and are more exposed to increased tension leading to possible overuse injury.
- Tight hip flexors
Just like the presence of weak gluteal muscles, the presence of tight hip flexors may also result in hamstring strain because the muscle groups tend to work harder to promote flexion of the knee during running and other activities involving the legs.
- Imbalance between the hamstring and the quadriceps
Aside from the hamstrings, the quadriceps is a major muscle group in the thighs located on the anterior portion opposite the hamstring muscles. When there is an imbalance between the two groups of muscles, the hamstring usually overly stretches to support knee flexion; thereby, leading to strain.
- Poor hamstring flexibility
During exercise or workout with undeveloped hamstring muscles, pain along the hamstring is squally felt during routines that require stretching of the hamstring muscle group. As a result, exercises may lead to pain and strain along the back of the thighs and knee. This can be managed through adequate stretching exercises before any exercise routine.
- Difference in the length of the legs
When the legs do not have the same length, the shorter leg tends to have the hamstring muscles stretch more to allow more stable movements. As a result, the hamstring muscles may develop strain in the long run.
- History of injury to the hamstrings
Any history of injury to the hamstrings such as previous surgery and physical trauma may put the individual at risk for hamstring strain because the muscles may possibly have reduced flexibility and strength from the previous injury.
Most of the causes of hamstring strain boil down to the importance of prevention because the most common causes of strain to the hamstrings are overuse injury.