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Hamstring injuries can affect any athlete, at any time. You are more likely to get a hamstring strain if you perform sports that involve a lot of running and jumping or stopping and starting. Sprinting, hurdles, handball, football, baseball/softball, running and soccer are all good examples. The hamstring is formed from three muscles – the semitendinosus, semimembranosus and the biceps femoris – all of which perform the job of pulling the heel up toward the butt and control the decent.

Grades of strain: 

  1. Grade One – Little pain occurs and the athlete may not be aware of injury until the cool down. Usually these strains clear up within a week to ten days.
  2. Grade Two – These strains will take more time to heal and usually will prevent the athlete from training. Symptoms are swelling, pain, and limping; a rehabilitation program is recommended.
  3. Grade Three – Severe injury involving a tear to half or all of the muscle. Athlete will experience pain, swelling and an inability to walk. This type of strain usually takes months of rehabilitation.

Possible causes of hamstring injury:

  • Over-training or fatigue
  • New running shoes or a change of training surface
  • Previous injury
  • Poor technique or lack of specific range of mobility
  • Incorrect or no warm-up/stretch

Injury prevention:

  • Warm up sufficiently and then perform stretches to targeted muscle groups. Stretching during the cool down may also help.
  • Include strength training that is aimed at preventing hamstring injuries. This includes making the hamstrings resistant to fatigue, strengthening the hamstrings, increasing the eccentric strength of the muscles and addressing any deficiencies between the limbs.
  • Avoid over-training and dramatic increases in training intensity or duration

Work performed on the playing field, track or weight room can all be used to improve an athlete’s performance by making him/her faster and stronger. A good prevention method involves preparing an effective training program that will use this work to prevent potentially avoidable injuries, specifically to the hamstring.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Bell L, Cianca J, Erickson R. What Underlies My Hamstring Pain?. Running & Fitnews. November 2007;25(6):11-12.
2. Cissik J. Hamstring Injuries And The Sprinter. Track Coach. Fall2012 2012;(201):6405-6407.
3. Hamilton B. Hamstring muscle strain injuries: what can we learn from history?. British Journal Of Sports Medicine. October 2012;46(12):900-903.
4. Opar D, Williams M, Shield A. Hamstring Strain Injuries: Factors that Lead to Injury and Re-Injury. Sports Medicine. March 2012;42(3):209-226.
5. Robertson K, Molloy L. Hamstring Muscle Strains. Modern Athlete & Coach. April 2007;45(2):10-14.
6. Rosania J. TRAINING HAMSTRING REHAB EXERCISES. Swimming World. November 2007;48(11):26-27.
7. Snyder B. Hamstring Strains: Prevention and Treatment. Handball. February 2012;62(1):61.
8. Thames C. Low Back Pain and Hamstring Stretching: CAN STRETCHING EVER BE A BAD THING?. Hughston Health Alert. Winter2010 2010;22(1):5.
9. Understanding Running Injuries. IDEA Fitness Journal. February 2007;4(2):103.

The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.