04 Apr Is my hamstring ready to return to sport?
Hamstring injuries are common in sports that require high speed running and kicking, the AFL recorded in 2013 as the highest rate of injury with 24% of the total amount of injuries sustain during that season. And it remains the most common and prevalent injury in Australia football.
A hamstring strain on average can take about 21 days (depending on various factors) to recover and return to sport but don’t be fooled, hamstring injuries can feel like they improve quite quickly but when placed under load without the appropriate amount of time to heal they can fail. This can set your recovery back significantly.
It is important to review what may be the underlying factors which can lead to a hamstring strain/tear, this allows you to target the root of the problems and improve your ability to return to sport/activity without the risk of re-injury. In my experience pelvic alignment and biomechanical factors play a significant role in hamstring injuries. Recent studies have demonstrated that during unperturbed sprinting the point of failure is most likely to occur during the terminal swing phase just prior to the foot striking. This is point where the hamstrings are approaching peak length during maximally activity.
If you have sustained a hamstring injury I have provided some basic steps to improve your ability to return to activity or sport and reduce your likelihood of re-injury.
1) Get the right advice – Do not self diagnose as this can lead to disaster. We need to assess the amount of damage and implement a rehabilitation plan that will lead to success. Often I see clients that would rest for 2 weeks then attempt to return to sport and re aggravate their injury or in some cased causing further damage. Always talk to your Allied health Practitioner to assess/treat/rehab.
2) Maintain movement patterns – your body is design for movement, adding light stretching and walking (as tolerated) will encourages the damage tissue/scar tissue to mend and heal in the correct alignment. Do not sit for extended periods of time as this may place extra stress through your pelvis/lower limb.
3) Develop strength – if you suffered a grade 1 strain through one or both of your hamstrings it will start to feel better in the next 3-7 days. When no pain is experienced in heel strike (when your heel strikes the ground during walking) you start to implement some light running/jogging. A running program will need to be designed to allow to progressively improving your strength and movement patterns. This is a very important stage and I would advise to speak to your Allied health Practitioner to ensure that the right rehab plan is implemented.
4) Implementing a strengthening program to reduce the likelihood of re-injury and improving functional movement patterns through the pelvis and lower limbs. If you’re not completing single leg deadlifts into your weight program then you need to start. Your program should include posterior chain exercises which include lower back/gluteus muscle group/hamstrings.
At Affinity Allied Health Clinic we will review the factors which affect the hamstrings like;
• Ankle mobility/stability
• Pelvic alignment
• Working postures/behaviours
• Biomechanics – running movements
If you are suffering an acute or chronic hamstring strain/tear, contact our Exercise Scient Leigh Owen on 03 8692 2626 to obtain advice on what you can do to improve your performance and health.