Muscle strains occur due to too much demand placed on them.  In the AFL the most common group of muscles injured is the hamstring muscle.   This accounts for around 15% of all injuries in the AFL.  The hamstrings are bi-articular muscles, meaning that they have actions and roles to play at two joints -the hip and the knee.   The most common hamstring muscle injury is to the biceps femoris muscle, which is the most lateral muscle of the group.

As most of you have experienced there are different severities of muscle strains.  Grading can be quite challenging and elite sporting clubs will often seek medical imaging to confirm diagnosis and prognosis, in some cases this method may not be definitive.  A grade I strain may sideline athletes for 1-3 weeks, a grade II 4-6 weeks and a compete rupture may require surgery, both operative and conservative treatments may sit in the 12+ week timeframe.

Below is a checklist of why an injury may occur:

  • Muscular and joint tightness
  • Poor non specific warm up
  • Fatigue and hard training blocks
  • Previous muscle strain
  • Poor running technique and lower limb biomechanics
  • Poor muscle activation

Following a muscle strain, treatment is necessary to start the healing process.  Day 1-2 icing and low dosage pain free active stretching may start, aimed at the nervous system to subdue any neural tension.  Early physio management may be directed towards surrounding structures such as the lumbar region and gluteals.  From here an extensive strengthening program should start with running to presume on day 5-6 for your typical garden variety grade I strain.   The usual time spent in rehab is 2-3 weeks for a grade I, all exercise programs should have a progressing strength component, progressive running component to accompany physio treatment.

In Part 2 I will take you through all the exercise progressions for rehabbing a hamstring muscle strain.  

Author: Tate Pearson