The Athlete

Hamstrings

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 who do not fully extend their knees.

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 quadricep 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 your leg. It is not painful at first, but you get a sense of uneasiness in the leg.

TREATMENT

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 chance it will tear.

HAMSTRING STRETCHING AND STRENGTHENING

To Strengthen the Upper Hamstrings

Bolt an innertube firmly to a post or a door molding so that the bottom of the tube is 6 above the top of your knee when you are seated in a straight 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 10 times. Rest 30 seconds. Repeat procedure 5 times. Repeat with other leg

To Strengthen the Lower Hamstrings

Fasten 1 end of a bicycle innertube to a stationary object such as a doorknob.

Sit down & put 1 leg through the other end, as pictured in the diagram. The innertube should be slightly stretched.

Bend the knee backward rapidly 10 times, increasing tension on the tube. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat the procedure 5 times. Repeat with the other leg.

Hamstring Stretching

Lying on your back with your knees bent, clasp both hands around one thigh. Slowly straighten the leg until you get a stretching in the back of the thigh. Hold for a few seconds then relax. Repeat with the other leg.

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