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Hamstring strain

The betternow Cambridge physiotherapy treatments are here to help get the root and cause of your Hamstring strain which can lead to further injuries


For this article I wanted to focus on footballers in particular, simply due to the high incidence of hamstring related injuries in this group. An analysis of Premiership footballers in 2004/5 showed that as much as 40% of injuries were hamstring strains.hamstring_strain_2


The reason football and other pitch based sports have high incidences of hamstring strains is largely due to the dynamic nature of the sport. Footballers tend to sprint many times throughout a match, which can lead to muscles such as the hamstrings being forcibly stretched beyond their limits, leading to strain or tear of the muscle tissue. It is worth remembering that the hamstring works not only over the knee but also over the hip, meaning that it is more susceptible to fatigue.


A tear in a muscle is referred to as a strain and, depending on its severity, it is classified as a first, second or third degree strain.


1st Degree- A First degree strain is caused when a small number of tears appear within the muscle often caused by an overstretch as mentioned above. This injury is classified as mild and will tend to be characterised by a feeling of “tightness” into the affected muscle. Some pain on stretching as well as a weakness into the hamstring will be evident.


2nd Degree- A second degree hamstring strain is classified as a moderate injury as more tissue damage is evident. As opposed to a first degree strain, a second degree strain will result in more significant changes in lower limb function. An athlete may have some local discolouration, point tenderness and swelling as well as evident muscle spasm and tension. Walking may also be painful in this instance.


3rd Degree- This refers to a complete tear or rupture of the muscle, either in the muscle belly or at the intersection between the muscle belly and the tendon attaching the muscle to the bone.  This form of tear represents a significant injury and may cause symptoms which may include; a noticeable gap or deformity within the muscle, point tenderness over the injury site, muscle spasm, swelling, extensive discoloration, severe pain and difficulty with walking as well as significant muscle weakening. This injury will need to be surgically repaired otherwise the sufferer will end up with severe limitations in movement/function.






Speedy assessment and treatment is essential in injuries such as hamstring strains in order to help speed up the recovery process and prevent further damage. When you book in to see a Physiotherapist you will firstly receive an in-depth assessment so that a clear history can be taken to establish the exact cause of your symptoms as well as discussing your training programme and goals for recovery.


Following this, your injury will be assessed to establish the extent of the damage (what grade tear) as well as to establish other factors that need to be addressed. Some of these factors include core strength, hamstring mobility/strength, balance, hip strength and foot positioning as all of these may have contributed to your hamstring injury.


Treatment is very much based on the findings from the assessment and is based on factors such as how long you have had your injury for and the severity of the injury. All treatment plans differ based on the individual, however, here are some examples of treatments that may be used and advised by your Physiotherapist:


  • Cryotherapy/ICE
  • Specific soft tissue manipulation/massage.
  • Joint mobilisations including lumbar spine.
  • Ultrasound
  • Athletic Taping
  • Exercise Prescription
  • Sport specific rehabilitation
  • Advice regarding return to activity
  • Orthotic prescription


For more information on Hamstring strains or to book an appointment With Luke our Physiotherapist please call 01223832808. Alternatively email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



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