Strained Hamstrings

Football is the most popular sport in the world, with 240 million players registered worldwide. Footballers tend to suffer more from injuries in the lower half of their bodies, particularly around the groin, knee and ankle joints and leg muscles.

What Causes a Strained Hamstring?

There are three hamstring muscles that run down the back of the leg. Their job is to flex the knee and move the thigh backwards at the hip. If the hamstring is stretched beyond its capacity, it can become torn. Hamstring strains vary in severity from a mild pull to a complete rupture. The symptoms include: a sudden pain when the injury occurs, swelling, bruising and pain when trying to bend your leg. This is a very common injury in football because it is most likely to occur when you are sprinting or kicking.

Prevention of Strained Hamstrings

Warming up properly and taking the time to stretch before and after training will reduce the risk of a hamstring injury. Some football clubs also have a special pre-season training programme that focuses specifically on the hamstrings, in order to increase their strength and minimize the chance of them becoming torn or damaged. There are several factors that may make players more prone to this kind of injury, including age, flexibility, fitness level and previous injuries.

Treatment for Strained Hamstrings

Treatment depends on the severity of the injury and the first 48 hours after the injury has occurred are crucial. Using the RICE method of rest, ice, compression and elevation will help to decrease the pain and swelling. In some cases players may be referred to a sports injury specialist or physiotherapist who will devise a rehabilitation programme to restore the strained hamstring to its full strength. The first step is to deal with the pain of the injury, then the player will be given gentle stretching and endurance exercises to do. The final stage of the rehabilitation is for the player to start doing exercises that replicate what they do on the football pitch, working the hamstrings in the same way as they would when playing football.

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