Running Injury – Hamstring Pull

What is a Hamstring Pull?

A hamstring pull is actually a type of muscle strain. Muscle fibers are torn either partially or completely. A three point grading system is usually applied in diagnosing muscle strains, ranging from microtears and partial tears to complete tears and avulsions of muscles from their origins. The hamstring is actually more then one muscle, it is a group of 3 muscles that run down the back of the leg, opposite the quadriceps. The muscles include the semimembranosus, the semitendinosus, and the biceps femoris. These muscles are influential in bending the leg at the knee and also move and extend the leg at the hip joint. The hamstrings are especially important for power in sprinting, but seem to also plague distance runners as they shorten and tighten due to the repetitiveness of long distance running.

Contributing Factors to a Hamstring Pull

There are several factors that can contribute to hamstring pulls, including:

    • Inflexible hamstring muscles.
    • Muscle strength imbalance (hamstrings strength < 60% of quadricep strength).
    • Improper warm-up before speed work.
    • Overstriding in speed work.

Hamstring Pull Treatment Strategies

There are several treatment strategies to help heal this common injury, the key is to find the right combination that works for you so experiment with each and see what works:

    • Ice therapy.
    • Anti-inflammatory medication.
    • Rest, no running during acute stages of injury.
    • Eliminate speedwork until injury is healed.
    • Massage therapy.
    • Gentle stretching.
    • Gentle strengthening.
    • Shorten stride when you run.
    • Apply heat before training (after acute stage of injury).
    • Electrical stimulation.

Hamstring Pull Prevention

To avoid future hamstring problems, incorporate the following into your training program:

    • Strength training program.
    • Flexibility or stretching routine.
    • Complete warm-up before all speedwork (jogging, stretching, jogging, strides, drills, then ease into the workout by running first interval or repeat slightly slower then the latter intervals or repeats).
    • Sound training program with phases and progression.

Hamstring injuries are serious and to be avoided, they can become a lingering problem if not properly treated early on.