Things you must know
1. Hamstrings strain is ranked pretty high in the list of common training and sport injuries. What’s even more disturbing is that more than one third of individuals suffering from this problem experience re-injury, which might lead to both chronic dysfunction and pain.
2. Chronic hamstring injury can be caused by several factors; examples include lack of muscular control, flexibility, and not taking part in efficient and effective warm up sessions.
3. To prevent hamstring injuries, you must ensure that your hamstrings have functional length as well as the ability of controlling range of motion and forces efficiently.
4. Athletes need eight to 25 days to recover from hamstring strains.
Although hamstring strains have significantly high rates of reoccurrence, there are certain risk factors, which you can address with a suitable Prehab routine. The section below would educate you about the most modifiable hamstring strain risk factors.
#1 It is difficult to control the hamstrings if they start lengthening
The term “hamstrings” is used for a muscle group consisted of semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris (short and long head). Hamstrings mostly get injured during a running cycle’s terminal swing phase. This particular phase sees the hip move into flexion with the knee moving into an extension. These motions of the hind limb are controlled by our hamstring muscles; they do so by eccentrically decelerating and lengthening the limb. The part that experiences the most prominent musculotendon stretch is bicep femoris. The other parts of the hamstring are not affected as frequently. This makes its extremely important for the hamstrings to have adequate eccentric strength for avoiding injuries.
Studies conducted over the years have shown that incorporating eccentric hamstring exercises into daily routine helps in reducing the chances of re-injury significantly. Isokinetic testing done using advanced research lab equipment has revealed that if the strength imbalance ratio between concentric quadriceps and eccentric hamstrings force productions remains below 20 percent, the chances of injury increases by four times.
Many experts believe that our hamstring muscles should be powerful enough for eccentrically controlling and offsetting our quadriceps’ concentric action (when carrying out late terminal swings). The quadriceps and hamstrings are muscle groups located on exact opposite sides of our knee joint. The quadriceps fires to move the knee for an extension; this extension can be stopped from becoming a hyperextension only by our hamstrings. Your hamstrings and quadriceps must be equally strong for avoiding hamstring strains.
One eccentric hamstring exercise you must practice regularly is Harop Curl. To perform this exercise, you would need to lower yourself slowly onto the ground using your arms. Then, help yourself push up while reducing the extent of your dependence on the arms.
#2 Limited hamstring flexibility and mobility
You are at pretty high risk of suffering a hamstring strain or experiencing re-injury if your hamstring extensibility and flexibility is low. Such problems take place mostly because of the residual scar tissues.
When an individual suffers hamstring strain, he or she would definitely experience formation of scar tissues. Tissue remodeling and inflammation would be observed on that person’s MRI even when he or she returns to sport after recovering fully from the injury. Scar tissues tend to be much stiffer compared to the standard contractile tissues (the tissues scar tissues replace). In other words, scar tissue formation changes the biomechanics of our hamstring muscles completely. This alteration ends up shortening the span at which hamstrings generate maximum peak force. To put it more bluntly, after undergoing the biomechanical changes, hamstrings become much weaker when at their highest possible length. This situation is actually exactly the opposite of the situation people want to experience. One way the state of affairs can be reversed for better is by practicing stretching exercises.
#3 Extremely tight hip flexors and quads
Most readers would wonder how is reduced flexibility of the quadriceps related to increased risk of having hamstring strain. Let’s make the matter simpler to you. Try to think about the final phase of the terminal swing when running. At this phase, one of our legs remains in the front (with the knee extended and the hip flexed), and the other one pushes off from the track. Under such circumstances, limited flexibility of the back leg can put you at significantly higher risk of incurring hamstring strain (this strain would most likely be on the opposite side or would be contra lateral in nature).
The best way of combating the problem is performing hip flexor stretches on a regular basis. There are two kinds of hip flexor stretches that would offer you best possible results when it comes to improving the flexibility of your quadriceps. The first one among them would be targeting your rectus femoris. This stretching exercise would require you to flex your knee for lengthening your rectus femoris up to its maximum extent. This would give the muscle the greatest possible stretch. Standing up with your knee straight and extended, on the other hand, would slacken the position of your rectus femoris. At this point, you would be stretching the iliopsoas.
#4 You are unaware of the right process of warming up
If you know a thing or two about fitness, you must heard people saying that proximal stability is one of the main triggers of distal mobility. This popular saying actually applies to each and every part of our body including our hamstrings. Neuromuscular control in our lumbopelvic region plays an extremely vital role in the biomechanics of our lower body. When it comes to regular sporting activities, the role of neuromuscular control in our lumbopelvic region becomes even bigger for functioning of the hamstring muscles.
For ensuring that the control remains perfect, we must know the right way of warming up. According to the findings of a study conducted in 2009, athletes can successfully avoid hamstring strains if they warm up with HamSprint Drills. HamSprint Drills are great for warming up the lower limbs and improving their neuromuscular control. The said study showed that performing those drills for six consecutive weeks helps in improving an individual’s kinesthetic body awareness. Overall, when it comes to improving hamstring fitness, these drills have been proved to be much more effective than regular running and stretching.