Hamstring Tear

If you have been watching the world cup in Brazil as rabidly as I have you’ve seen a number of players pull up on a run or after a kick clutching the back of their leg, classic sign they’ve suffered a hamstring injury.

Ever wonder where that term came from, it does sound odd, but the name came from butchers who would hang pigs from those muscles, the ham portion meant the bend at the knee and the string part from the obvious string-like feel of the tendon portion that attaches these muscles to the lower leg at the knee. If you reach behind your knee they are quite easy to feel.

These muscles functions are to bend the knee, many of  you have done “hamstring curls” at the gym lying on your stomach bringing heels to buttocks.

The hamstrings are a group of three muscles that attach to the bottom of you pelvis, the bones you sit on, your thigh and finally just below the knee.

The hamstrings are often tight and as the opposing muscles to the powerful quadriceps on the top of your thigh, the muscles that straighten the knee, they are often injured  when sprinting or when quickly stretched, i.e. as we’ve seen in the World Cup stretching to kick or reach the ball.

Risk factors for injuring a hamstring are varied but include, lack of flexibility, muscle imbalance between quadriceps and hamstrings, inadequate warm-up, age, fatigue (perhaps one of the issues with World Cup athletes) and previous injury to the back, knee or hamstring. Most often the injury is in the buttock area or middle of the muscle, if you suspect you’ve injured a hamstring, stop your activity and ice the area for a 10/10/10 protocol or 10minutes ice, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes ice every hour to 2 hours.

In office treatment will include electrical muscle stimulation, ultrasound, soft tissue therapy and spinal manipulation.  As a chiropractor we see increased hamstring tightness following injury/irritation to your lower spinal joints, so ensuring your spine motion is optimal is an important part of treatment and as a preventative measure.

Rehabilitative exercises to be done at home are important and include some gentle stretching and as pain and range of motion improves,  static strengthening ( without movement) and dynamic strengthening ( with movement)

Below are a few examples of simple home exercises to stretch and strengthen the hamstrings. If you have questions or want more information please don’t hesitate to contact me at drkevinfinn.ca

The hamstrings are important muscles you may recall when I blogged about girls and Knee ACL injuries and there are more exercises in the FIFA11 soccer exercise protocol.

Gentle stretching examples   


While lying on your back, raise up your leg and hold the back of your knee until a stretch is felt.

How to Pick out a Bike Helmet

With spring finally here a lot of you myself included are looking forward to getting out on your bike. Nothing beats having the wind at your back as you go for a ride.

Now I know when we were young we didn’t wear bike helmets so why would I wear one now? Good question,  we also thought the world was flat and  that bed rest was good for back pain, things that are totally counter-intuitive now.

You’ve got a head worth protecting and no matter where you ride whether on the road, the mountain bike trails,( www.durhammountainbiking.ca ) BMX Park  (  http://www.joyride150.com) or just the local bike path, you should wear a helmet to protect your skull, head injuries are no fun.

Now a bike helmet no matter how expensive or cushiony will not prevent a concussion, but a concussion is better than a skull fracture.

Hopefully I’ve convinced you that a bike helmet is a good idea, where do you go from here? Do you need to spent lots of $$$$, for a helmet?

The short answer is no, inexpensive helmets have the same safety rating as more expensive ones, a concept opposite to motorcycle helmets. The added cost usually comes with better fit, more adjustability, graphics, better ventilation, visors etc.

Once you find a helmet that you like, the fit is very important it should sit so that most of your forehead is covered, a finger’s breadth or two above the eyebrows. The chin strap must be buckled, but not the same way a NHL hockey player’s chin strap flops around it should only have a finger width between your chin and the strap. The strap will form a triangle that point to the floor.

A helmet is garbage if you’ve fallen and hit your head, or is more than 6 years old, get a new one.

Enjoy the summer on two wheels, see you on the trails.

For more tips check Durham Public Health