Preventing an injury is always better than the pain, recovery, and time away from your sport after an injury. Prevention is urgent for your hamstrings because they’re highly vulnerable to strains, and once the muscles tear, you have a high risk for recurrent injuries.
The top-ranked team at Cascade Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center, PC, offers comprehensive care for your hamstring muscles. They help you prevent injuries and provide sports medicine when needed to restore your health.
Keep reading to learn about hamstring muscles and the steps to take to prevent hamstring strains and tears.
Why your hamstring is susceptible to injuries
Your hamstring muscles are a group of three major muscles. They run from the bottom of your hip, down the back of your thigh, and stop past your knee, connecting to your upper leg bones.
The three muscles bend your knee joints (flexion), straighten your hip, push the leg back (hip extension), and help rotate your hip. These movements cause incredible stress contributing to injuries; however, your risk magnifies with the interaction between knee and hip movements.
The hamstrings are among only a few muscles that traverse two joints. As you decelerate or change directions, opposing interactions between your hip and knee joints place unique pressure on the hamstring muscles and tendons. As a result, they’re vulnerable to injuries.
You’re most likely to strain your hamstring if you participate in sports that require:
- Explosive movements
- Quick changes in direction (pivoting and cutting)
Your risk increases in activities that overstretch the hamstring muscles, including hurdling, kicking, and heavy lifting.
Tips for preventing hamstring injuries
Here are four tips for preventing hamstring injuries:
Follow a conditioning program
If you want to prevent injuries, there’s no way around following a training regimen that stretches and strengthens your hamstrings. You should have a balanced regimen that maintains equal strength in your other leg and hip muscles.
Several exercises specifically train your hamstrings, conditioning them to stand up to intense movements during sports. Three examples include eccentric box drops, single-leg deadlifts, and the Nordic hamstring curl.
The most important aspect of a conditioning program is meeting your unique athletic needs. We can help by evaluating your muscles and creating a customized exercise routine that achieves optimal hamstring health, improves performance, and lowers injury risk.
Warm-up before sports
If you’re an athlete, you know the importance of warming up. We included it in this list because it never hurts to remind you that aerobic warm-ups and static stretching improve hamstring flexibility, which lowers your risk of an injury.
Rest and rebuild after activities
Muscle fatigue is a significant contributor to hamstring injuries. Fatigue decreases the hamstring’s strength and reduces its ability to contract.
Recovering from the stress of athletics means resting the hamstrings, getting enough sleep, and giving the muscles nutrition to restore cellular energy and strength.
Take action at the first sign of problems
One of the best ways to prevent injuries is to take action at the first sign of a problem. Getting help while you still have a mild strain prevents injuries from turning into a tear that requires months of healing.
A mild strain may cause aching, tightness, soreness, or cramping. A more severe injury causes:
- Sudden, sharp pain (in the back of your thigh or buttocks)
- Bruising (on the back of your leg and below the knee)
- Popping or tearing sensations
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty sitting
- Difficulty walking
If the injury occurs while you’re running or sprinting, you have intense pain, making it impossible to keep moving.
Severe pain sends a clear message to seek medical care. Learning to pay attention to signs is equally important. Your body tells you when something is wrong; you only need to pay attention to prevent injuries.
If you have questions about protecting your hamstring muscles, call the nearest office in Hood River or The Dalles, Oregon, or use online booking to schedule an appointment today with the team at Cascade Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center, PC.