When you tear your hamstring, you actually rip muscles in the back of your thigh. This group of three muscles, known collectively as your hamstrings, gives your knee the ability to bend during activity so you can do things like run and jump.
Hamstring tears are a common injury, especially among athletes where it’s a leading sports-related injury. Unfortunately, once you tear your hamstring, it’s more likely you’ll do it again.
But whether you have a history of hamstring injuries or want to avoid problems in the future, there are ways to protect yourself.
Dr. Jared Tadje provides sports medicine services at Tadje Orthopaedics in Meridian, Idaho. His specialized training enables him to treat and prevent injuries associated with sports or exercise. While Dr. Tadje can help with numerous sports-related injuries, the one he sees most often involves hamstring tears.
If you want to avoid a hamstring tear, Dr. Tadje recommends following these steps.
Recognize your risks
While anyone can sustain a hamstring tear, certain factors increase your chances of injury, including:
- Older age
- Lack of hamstring muscle strength or flexibility
Your risks of hamstring tears also increase if you had an injury in the past. That’s because hamstring injuries cause the muscle to grow inflamed and swell. This causes scar tissue to form, leaving the muscle less flexible, weaker, and more prone to injury.
Have you ever heard that you can have too much of a good thing? That goes double for exercise and physical activity.
One of the leading causes of torn hamstrings involves overtraining, which overloads your hamstring muscles and leads to tears. When you push your muscles hard every day or even every other day, they may not have the time they need to rest and recover, leaving you vulnerable to injury.
Address muscle imbalances
Believe it or not, sometimes the real problem with your hamstrings lies with other parts of your body.
For example, having quadriceps more than 1.5 times as strong as your hamstrings can put you at higher risk of hamstring injuries. Similarly, you can also experience hamstring tears because of weak glutes (butt muscles) and tight hip flexors.
Dr. Tadje can help identify muscle imbalances or other issues that could contribute to injury and can make suggestions to help.
Strengthen your hamstring muscles
Whether you want to avoid a hamstring injury or recover from one, strengthening these muscles can help.
Common exercises designed to strengthen the hamstrings include:
- Nordic hamstring
- Single leg deadlifts
- Prone hamstring curls
- Hamstring walking bridge
- Hamstring curls on ball
If you need to strengthen your hamstrings, Dr. Tadje can provide personalized recommendations based on your overall health, fitness level, and favorite activity.
Focus on flexibility
We often focus on strength when it comes to physical fitness. But flexibility also plays an important role, especially regarding injury prevention.
The easiest way to visualize the importance of stretching to avoid injury is to think of your muscles as chewing gum. If you try to stretch a piece of chewing gum that’s cold, it will snap and break. But if you warm the gum up first, it becomes more stretchy and less likely to break.
To avoid hamstring injuries, Dr. Tadje suggests stretching your hamstrings daily and before and after physical activity. This can help keep your muscles more flexible, which reduces your chances of stretching them too far.
Don’t rush your recovery
Finally, listen to your body and stop when something hurts. And give yourself plenty of time to heal if an injury does occur.
If you have a hamstring tear, Dr. Tadje can outline a treatment strategy to help get you back on your feet, safely and pain-free.
Depending on the severity of your injury, it can take anywhere from four weeks to three months to fully recover. But with Dr. Tadje’s guidance, you can rest easy knowing you have the best rehabilitation plan possible and less risk of reinjury in the future.
Are you looking for ways to avoid or recover from a sports-related injury? Contact us at Tadje Orthopaedics to schedule a consultation by calling 208-515-2654.