The hamstrings are situated in the rear top of the thigh which is comprised of three large muscles – biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus. These muscles traverse under the buttocks up to the knee. The hamstring muscles are responsible for bending the knee and lifting the leg straight out to the back.
The hamstring muscles are heavily used during certain activities such as running, squatting, jumping and high-impact sports. The hamstrings can become tight and prone to painful injuries. Avoiding injuries can be achieved by being familiar with the usual causes of hamstring pain so that appropriate preventive measures can be taken.
Pulled muscle or strain
The hamstring muscles can be strained or pulled due to incorrect or excessive exercise. Take note that this injury can occur once the muscle is powerfully stretched or overloaded. This usually occurs once the leg is straight and weight is placed on it at the same time such as during sprinting where it is required to push off the toes while the leg is straight or when landing hard without bending the knees.
The risk for a strain or pull can increase if the hamstring muscles are tight, stronger quadriceps muscles or when the individual who is out of shape works out excessively. Strained or pulled hamstring muscles can cause stiffness, pain and swelling. The treatment involves rest, application of ice and elevation and a gradual return to activities can help resolve the symptoms. The individual should also wear proper footwear, engage in a daily stretching program and steadily increase the intensity of workouts in order to prevent this injury. If you want to learn how about these treatment options, click here.
The hamstring muscles can also develop sore cramping. These cramps occur once the muscles uncontrollably and powerfully contract. Even though muscle cramps are not serious, they can be severe enough to force the individual to stop any activity.
A muscle cramp usually lasts for a few seconds or minutes and then vanishes. In some cases, it can involve muscle soreness for 1-2 days. Those who work out too hard and exercise without proper stretching as well as becoming dehydrated can contribute to muscle cramps. Take note that dehydration can progress to electrolyte imbalance that can disrupt with the correct muscle contraction as well as relaxation.
Muscle tear or rupture
It is important to note that grade 1-2 strains include incomplete tears to the muscles but can be treated using conservative measures. As for a grade 3 strain, it involves complete tearing of the muscle. This grade of muscle strain is uncommon but it can cause intense pain, swelling, bruising and the muscle can ball up to a point that it can be palpated or even visible. Grade 1-2 strains and sprains that are not treated can progress to hamstring tears. A direct blow or accident to the back part of the thigh can also cause this injury.