No matter the degree of hamstring injury, we should rehabilitate early!
Every thought that hammy will just get better? Well here is why it won’t be 100% again!
Have you torn a hamstring and thought to yourself
“Give it a few days and it will be fine!!”
only to find it continues to niggle and cause issues weeks, months or even years down the track?
You’re not wrong in believing a muscle tear will heal. Our bodies are amazing things and they do have the ability to heal soft tissue injuries.
Check out the three things below explaining why you should rehabilitate a hamstring tear and not just let it heal on its own.
1) A torn hamstring becomes a weak hamstring!
Hamstring tears are painful – I know this from experience having a grade three tear of my left hamstring and a grade two tear of my right hamstring.
Due to increased pain we avoid using the hamstring muscle and subsequently we lose strength.
The saying ‘use it or lose it’ is definitely relevant to hamstring tears and this is why beginning strengthening exercises early in your rehabilitation is important to minimise loss of strength.
It is also important to note that even though our body heels the torn muscle fibres, the new fibres, unless placed under the correct load will not be as strong as the rest of the muscle.
“Unless rehabilitated with a good strengthening program they will always be ‘weaker’ and more susceptible to reinjury”
2) A hamstring tear results in a change in the architecture of the muscle and reduces its length.
Although we do not encourage stretching in the very acute early stages post hamstring tears, beginning eccentric loading early on has been shown to not only increase strength but also increase fascicle length.
Why do we need long muscle fascicles?
Recent studies have found an increased risk of injury/reinjury in hamstring muscles with shorter fascicle length.
3) Proper rehabilitation ensures you put your mind at ease and do not develop anxiety or fear around your hamstring injury.
A physiotherapist is able to guide you through your rehabilitation ensuring you progress through each stage of strengthening when you are ready to do so.
I wasn’t such a great example. I suffered a grade three tear of my hamstring many years before becoming a physiotherapist and did not complete the proper rehabilitation.
As a result I did not adequately strengthen the muscle and now well over 10 years on, despite having optimal function through a lot of hard work, lifting and multiple hamstring strengthening programs since, I still hesitate to sprint at 100% due to a fear of tearing my hamstring again.
It is not that is not strong enough or I can’t sprint, it is the thought “what if?” that has stayed in my mind due to the years of doing nothing about it!
So I cannot stress more the importance of seeing us early during the healing of your hamstring injury to limit the fear of re-injury sticking with you for a long time to come.
If you have just torn your hamstring playing sport or chasing the kids around the yard don’t be fooled into believing it will heal on its own.
Ensure you build strength, increase length and avoid unhealthy beliefs about your injury.
If you struggle with a recent hamstring injury, then you need to click this link to see me!
By Jayme-Lee Wells: Physiotherapist
Dean is a registered Gold Coast Physiotherapist with undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Human Movement and Exercise Science. His background has developed his vision for Fighting Fit Physiotherapy to focus on optimal health and peak physical performance for every single patient. Utilising his many qualifications, in depth knowledge of the body and passion for exercise he can provide a holistic approach to your treatment and exercise prescription to get the best outcome.