Hamstring pulls, a rip or tear of a hamstring muscle or its tendon, are common ailments in sports. They happen mainly to sprinters. It is rarely a problem in athletes and fitness buffs that do not full extend their knee.
The hamstring muscle located in the back of the thigh, pulls the knee down. It runs from the bottom of your pelvis to just below the bend in your knee.
The hamstring “rips” with the muscle fully stretched out. Imagine the sprinter firing out of the starting blocks. As he picks up speed, the quadriceps muscles contract to extend the lower leg. The hamstring muscle tries to resist or decelerate this extension. The pull happens when the quad muscle out powers the hamstring. This can also happen if you are not properly warmed up or are especially tight.
In most cases the muscle tears where it attaches to the tendon or about one third of the way down the thigh.
When you tear a hamstring, you know it. You feel a definite ripping or tearing in the back of the leg. It is not painful at first, but you get a sense of uneasiness in the leg.
The best treatment is: REST*ICE*COMPRESSION*ELEVATION. Prior to returning to activity, you should be able to contract the hamstring without pain. It is recommended that you wear a hamstring compression sleeve that applies even pressure around the thigh and supports the soft tissue.
Often, the hamstring remains sensitive for several months. You must continue to gently stretch prior to activity and use ice immediately after. A tight hamstring is like a tight guitar string, the tighter it is, the greater the chance it will tear.
To Strengthen the Upper Hamstrings
- Bolt an innertube firmly to a post or a door molding so that the bottom of the tube is six inches above the top of your knee when you are seated in a straigth chair.
- Put the leg closest to the tube through it so that the bottom rests under your thigh.
- Forcefully lower your foot to the ground, then relax. Repeat rapidly ten times. Rest thirty seconds. Repeat with other leg.
To Strengthen the Lower Hamstrings
- Fasten one end of a bicycle innertube to a stationary object such as a doorknob.
- Sit down and put one leg through the other end, as pictured in the diagram. the innertube should be tightly stretched.
- Bend the knee backward rapidly ten times, increasing tension on the tube. Rest for thirty seconds. Repeat the procedure five times. Repeat with the other leg.