What are the hamstrings?
The hamstrings is a group of 3 muscles that run down the back of your leg; from your sit bone to your lower leg. On the outside of your thigh is the biceps femoris, and on the inside is the semitendinosus and semimembranosus.

The hamstrings can do a number of things: extend the hip, bend the knee and rotate the lower leg inward and outward as you see here in the picture.

A hamstring injury is common in sports, such as soccer, field hockey and athletics, as well as gymnastics and martial arts. 

Often a hamstring injury occurs during a sprint, slide, high kick or splits. Movements in which your hamstring has to work hard and is often stretched to its maximum. One of the hamstring muscles can then strain or tear. Rarely does a muscle tear completely. We call this an acute hamstring injury.

You can recognize an acute hamstring injury by a bright shooting pain at the back of your leg. Sometimes the area becomes swollen or blue. Further sport is then impossible. Sometimes it is not too bad and the pain goes away quickly, but you may have pain for days afterwards while walking, cycling or climbing stairs. Then it is a good idea to seek help from a physical therapist. 

Hamstring tendinopathy
Hamstring injuries can also occur gradually. This often involves overuse of muscle or tendon. The tendons connect your muscle to the bone. When a muscle contracts, tensile force is put on the tendon. This usually goes well, but if the tendon has to endure more stress for a long time than it can handle, symptoms can develop. We call this tendinopathy, which means "disorder of the tendon. There are many different phases of tendinopathy. Often the pain is present when you start exercising, and goes away when you are warm. After exercise, the pain may return and last for a few hours. If the complaint is worse, it does not fully subside during exercise, and you may continue to suffer for longer periods of time even at rest.

Risk factors for hamstring injuries
You are at higher risk for hamstring injuries if you:

  • Building up your (sports) load too quickly
  • Have an incorrect/unfavorable/faulty (running) pattern
  • Have high tension in your hamstrings 
  • Have insufficient strength in your hamstrings
  • Have insufficient strength and stability of the pelvic and trunk muscles
  • Insufficient coördination to perform a movement correctly
  • Spends many hours sitting 

Are you experiencing symptoms? Then consult a physical therapist. He or she will investigate what is going on and give you advice and exercises tailored to your needs. You can also contact us for an (e)-consult. Through the site you can easily schedule an appointment with one of our physios.