What is it?
One of more of the three Hamstrings that make up this muscle group, tears. This can be in diagnosed as a grade I-III muscle tear, ranging from a mild injury to a complete rupture. The Hamstrings cross two joints, the hip and the knee, meaning huge forces are transferred through this muscle group. Injury can either occur in the muscle belly or at its origin or insertion, via a tendon. People often report a sudden and severe pain on exercise, with a popping or snapping sensation at the back of the thigh. This is often accompanied with bruising and an inability to walk or straighten the knee. Muscle belly injuries tend to recover quicker than tendon injury, due to its rich blood supply. Recovery time can be from 2 weeks to 8 weeks.
Why would I suffer with this?
Running puts a great deal of pressure on the Hamstrings and any additional pressure can cause overload, leading to a tear. The following factors can make you more likely to injury:
# Insufficient warm-up
# Excessive tightness in the Quadriceps
# Poor Gluteal muscle strength
# Excessive hill and speed work
# Poor flexibility
What can I do to help myself?
It is important to stop exercising immediately, apply a cold pack for 15 mins (repeating 4-6 times a day) and elevate to dicipate any swelling. Speak to a health care professional to formally diagnose the injury, the extent of the muscle tear and the plan to recovery. Stretching, foam rolling, strength rehabilitation and your return to running needs to be carefully planned out, as a premature return may cause further damage and set you back even further. It is essential you can walk, run, sprint and jump without any undue muscle tightness or pain before you progressively return back to running. Soft tissue massage and manual therapy can accelerate your recovery with integrated strength and stability training.