The Hamstring muscle group, often referred to as the “hammie” is often associated with sports injuries like muscle tears, BUT.. they could be causing a lot more than just that.
What make up the Hamstring?
The hamstring muscle group is not as strong as it’s quadricep counterpart, but they are pretty crucial in our ability to move. The group is made up of 3 individual muscles that sit under the back of your thigh, Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus and Biceps femoris. They all cross two joints, the hip and the knee meaning that they can produce hip extension by bringing the leg back behind you or knee flexion by bending the knee back.
How can Hamstring injuries occur?
In a normal functioning leg, every action in your quadricep muscles at the front of your leg causes an opposite reaction in the hamstrings at the back of your leg. These two muscles work very closely together to allow you to move both your hip and knee joints and stabilise the pelvis. While it is normal and expected for the quadriceps muscles to be stronger than the hamstrings it is important to have a correct balance of strength in both groups. When there is a strength imbalance between the two the hamstrings may be too weak to support the actions of the quadriceps. This imbalance can often be caused by sitting and running and when an imbalance does occur it can cause problems such as lower back pain and an increased risk of hamstring strains or tears to occur.
What can weak hamstring’s cause?
When the hamstring muscles are weak it causes additional load and stress to be placed on it’s surrounding muscle groups, as the hamstrings aren’t able to handle higher loads or intensities. This can result in overuse strains or injuries to occur in the gluteal muscles, the quadriceps and even the lower back.
What can tight hamstring’s cause?
Tight and inflexible hamstrings can often be a contributor to lower back pain. This can happen through tight and constantly contracted hamstrings putting additional stress on the hips and pelvis. This causes the pelvis to tilt back, which subsequentially places added tension and pressure onto the spine and vertebrae. When prolonged periods of tightness occur muscles spasms and strains in the lower back can begin to occur consistently.
Hamstring tightness can also cause patella-femoral pain syndrome which basically causes an increased strain between the kneecap and thigh bone.
How to prevent Hamstring injuries or tightness:
By Aleisha Michael
Accredited Exercise Physiologist