Hamstring injuries : Rugby Injuries

Although hamstring injuries might more commonly be associated with games such as football, playing Rugby can also lead to hamstring injuries. Rugby players are constantly using their legs for running, tackling and scrumming and this can lead to a hamstring injury.

What is the hamstring?

The hamstring should, strictly speaking, be referred to as the ‘hamstring group’, given that it’s no single muscle, but rather a collection of three muscles which control knee and thigh-to-hip movements. The correct medical names of the three hamstring muscles are Semitendinosus, Biceps Femoris and Semimembranosus. In simple terms, the purpose of the hamstring muscles are to move the lower leg behind the thigh, often necessary for kicking a rugby ball or for running.

Causes of hamstring injury

There may be many different causes of hamstring injury in rugby games, but one particularly common cause is over-striding whilst running. Rugby players change directions to avoid tackles or to follow play, but this style of running exerts great pressure on the hamstring. Furthermore, over-stretching or awkward positioning of the leg can lead to hamstring injury, as well as simple overuse of the hamstring.

Types of hamstring injury

The different hamstring injuries are categorised into grades of seriousness:

  • A grade one injury is the most minor kind of hamstring injury, and symptoms may include aching and tenderness at the back of your leg, as well as some small impediment to your ability to run.
  • A grade two injury will be relatively painful and could result in some swelling around your knee or the back of your leg. Unlike a grade one injury, your ability to run will be very noticeably hindered.
  • A grade three injury is the most serious kind of hamstring injury, and symptoms include intense pain, as well as inflammation and bruising to a great extent. Players with this injury will probably not be able to walk unaided.

Preventing hamstring injuries

Any injury in rugby could mean sitting out of play, a bad thing for any serious player. Thus, the best thing to do is to try and prevent yourself from ever getting a hamstring injury. There are many simple measures that go far to prevent hamstring injuries. Ensuring you warm up with stretches and movements prior to training and rugby games is an easy and effective way to reduce the likelihood of any hamstring injury. Primarily, you should ensure that you get an adequate amount of rest in between training sessions and rugby games. If your body is fatigued, the muscles are more likely to sustain injury.

Remember, your body needs time to grow and repair, and the same is true of your hamstring muscles. If you don’t give it that time then you are only increasing the risk of injury. If you fear you may have injured your hamstring, temporarily discontinue play. If you continue to play rugby, your injury could become significantly worse and you may even tear the hamstring muscles altogether.

Treatment for hamstring injuries

It is important that you rest the hamstring where possible, but this doesn’t have to mean discontinuing training altogether. Lowering the intensity of training and exertion on the hamstring through running less, shortening your tread and stretching the hamstring for a couple of minutes every day could help with grade one and two injuries. Also, ice packs are helpful in the first instance of the injury. For grade three injuries you should seek a full medical examination, and you may require some physiotherapy to fully recover.

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