3 min read


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Protect Your Hamstrings

If you were to ask any individual to show you a stretch for the body, there’s a 99% chance they would bend over to reach their toes with their hands. This universal flexibility exercise is known to stretch the hamstrings.

But what do the hamstrings do, and why are they prone to strains? Here, we’ll dive into why you should be aware of hamstring strains and what you can do about them.

What Are the Hamstrings?

The hamstring muscles are three muscles found at the back of the thigh. Their main function is to bend the knee, otherwise known as flexion. An easy example of their movement is bringing your feet to your buttock. Though they function to bend the knee, they’re also stabilizers for walking, running, and absorbing impact from a jump.

The hamstrings are made up of the biceps femoris (the outside hamstring), semitendinosus, and semimembranosus muscles. All three muscles attach at the hip and knee, essentially crossing two different joints. Therefore, they not only contribute to bending of the knee, but extension of the hips (working alongside the glutes).

During walking and running, the hamstrings play a role in the heel phase in which the leading foot makes initial contact with the ground, absorbing the energy from the ground to protect the knee and hips. Furthermore, it helps pull the center of mass forward, propelling forward motion.

However, when your feet make initial contact with the ground (often starting with the heel), the hamstrings are placed in their most stretched position underload. This leads to an eccentric contraction, where the hamstrings undergo load in a lengthened position, risking strain if the force is strong enough.

hamstring muscles

What Are Hamstring Strains?
Strains to the hamstring muscles are the most common muscle injury in athletes and everyday people. They are sometimes known as “pulled hamstrings”, and most prevalent in sports like sprinting, track & field, soccer, and basketball. Hamstring strains make up 12-16% of athletic muscle injuries, and have a reinjury rate of 22-34%. They are typically seen in males more than females.

The mechanism of injury is often associated with overload placed on the hamstring in a lengthened position, followed by a quick contraction, such as the initial contact and shock absorption at the heel while running.

Severe strains can lead to partial or complete tears of the hamstring. These are graded from 1 to 3:
  • Grade 1: mild pain with some swelling, with minimal loss of range and strength. These typically take 2-3 weeks to fully heal and return-to-sport.

  • Grade 2: moderate pain, inflammation and bruising, with tears to the tissue that lead to a loss of range and strength. These typically require 4-8 weeks to fully heal and return-to-sport.

  • Grade 3: complete tear of the muscle, or musculotendon point with severe pain, swelling, and a complete lack of function. These are typically surgically managed, and may require 3-6 months for full healing and return-to-sport.


    Who Is Most at Risk of Hamstring Strains?
    Those most at risk of developing a hamstring strain show:

  • Decreased flexibility and range of motion.
  • Decreased strength and endurance.
  • History of previous hamstring injury.
  • History of low back pain.
  • Poor lumbopelvic stability and control.
  • Heel striking with running gait.
  • Improper or lack warm-up.

    There are many factors that may relate to the development or recurrence of hamstring strain. Males aged 16 to 25 years old, with asymmetrical differences in function, are at most risk. Identifying areas of opportunity is key, and should be done with your physical therapist, chiropractor, or massage therapist.

    What Do Hamstring Strains Feel Like?
    Those experiencing hamstrings strains may have:
  • Pain and cramping at the back of the thigh with bending of the knee and extension of the hip.
  • Pain, muscle cramps, and dysfunction with walking and sitting.
  • Decreased range of motion at the knee into flexion.
  • Bruising 24-48 hours after injury.
  • Grade 2-3 strains and tears may have a palpable rupture, with significant muscle spasms.

    Your physician, physical therapist, chiropractor, or massage therapist can help differentiate your hamstring strain, review the involvement of the sciatic nerve, and help start the first steps into rehabilitation or prevention. Your physician may order imaging to determine the extent of damage, if necessary.

    How Do You Treat and Manage Hamstring Strains?
    Thankfully, the majority of strains can be managed conservatively. Grade 1 and 2 strains will usually require rest, ice for 10-20 minutes at a time, activity modification, and pain medications directed by your physician. Grade 3 strains may require surgical intervention. In the early stages, rehabilitation is meant to focus on protecting the tissue, and minimizing any loss of motion and strength.

    Early on, your physical therapist should guide you through progressive and safe exercises focused on strength and re-establishing movement. Though some pain is expected, each exercise progression into further mobility and functional strength should be as pain free as possible. Exercises will not only focus on range of motion and strength, but trunk stability and movement retraining specific to your activity. This is key for reducing other extraneous factors that can contribute to hamstring injuries (e.g. lumbopelvic instability, poor strength at the glutes and quadriceps).

    Hands-on therapy, such as myofascial techniques, acupuncture, and dry needling may complement therapy by reducing muscle spasms and pain along areas of the body experiencing overuse. Once tissue is healed, further application of hands-on therapy may help improve range of motion at the hamstring, and bring further input to the body for functional movements.

    Protect your hamstrings this season!

    Find your nearest Myodetox clinic

  • 4 min read

    Steve McGeachy, C.P.P.S.

    Posted on

    This is the only workout you need to know this offseason

    You’re an athlete and your season is over. Now what?

    The offseason of today is much different than it was before. Back then, taking the time off, so your body and mind could recover was a priority. Now the offseason is more about improving your game so an athlete can build and progress from the previous year.

    A proper offseason training regimen can improve many different aspects of your game such as injury prevention, flexibility, strength, conditioning and recovery time.

    The demands of a season can take a toll, and the daily grind can wither your body down. But with more of a focused and planned program during the offseason, it’s easier to avoid the injury pitfalls and it will put you in a better position to succeed.

    The following is a breakdown of an off-season training program that will have you ready for training camp.


    Muscle Activation and Mobility


    Muscle activation is the foundation of our system. It’s crucial every muscle is firing correctly. If muscles aren’t firing properly, we can’t progress into the strength and power phase for the simple fact that we would be strengthening a dysfunction. For example, if an athlete can’t perform a simple bodyweight box squat, there is no way they will be able to do a loaded barbell squat properly.

    Strength and Power Development




    Once we have completed the muscle activation and structural balance phase, the next step is developing strength and power. This action will help the athlete increase lean tissue while dropping body fat, create more explosiveness throughout the whole body, and strengthen the ligaments and tendons.

    Depending on the athlete and their sport, we may focus on improving relative strength, which increases the players strength but keeping their mass gain to a minimum. This is key for positional players like point guards in basketball or extreme athletes like boxers and MMA specialists.

    NOTE: Super sets, volume training, and pyramid rep schemes can all be implemented in this phase. 

    Metabolic Conditioning


    Following the strength and power phase is conditioning. This stage targets muscular endurance, cardiovascular and recovery time. It’s best to introduce the conditioning phase last because by this point, your season is around the corner and your body should be optimized to meet the demands of team tryouts and camps.

    We incorporate drills focusing on agility, velocity and sport specific movements depending on the position of the player. After this phase we ideally transfer the player on to the court or field where we would introduce workouts mirroring game situations and intensity. For basketball, our players would now begin to run conditioning and shooting drills on the court as this is where we look to exploit the power we have built for the past few months.


    As the season progresses our athletes would begin our ”in-season” program which strives to maintain strength, agility and range of motion.

    If you stick to a disciplined program during the offseason, your game will elevate to another level, and your body will be more sustainable throughout the season.