By Mark Jenkins, MD
Editor's Note: Because
hamstring injuries are so common in karate, kung fu
and other martial arts we have posted this article
from the SportsMedWeb.
The hamstring muscles are located in the back of
the thigh and injuries can be acute or chronic. Sprinting
subjects these muscles to high tension loads and sudden
tears can occur. The recent Olympic games in Atlanta
saw several sprinters go down in agony with acute
hamstring injuries. Conditions that predispose to
acute injury are,
poor lower back flexibility, and
abnormal biomechanics (e.g., anterior pelvic
Chronic hamstring injuries usually arise from an
improperly rehabilitated acute injury, but may occur
as the result of small amounts of trauma repeated
over a long period (i.e., distance running). Poor
hamstring flexibility increases the likelihood of
small tears, which in turn cause the muscle to shorten
and get tighter. A vicious circle can become established.
Prompt and appropriate initial treatment can break
this spiral. The initial care of an acute hamstring
injury involves the R.I.C.E. regimen. This acronym
compression (e.g., an ace bandage), and
1 - 2 days, the athlete can stop the intermittent
application of ice and begin a gentle stretching routine.
It is important not to overstretch into the pain range
, since this will contribute to muscle damage. As
recovery progresses, rehabilitation exercises are
added and gradually increased. Soft tissue therapy
is useful to promote full range of motion and to break
down areas of "scar" formation. Return to
full functional activity should proceed slowly and
be carefully monitored. Treat the injured muscle with
respect. Too quick a return may cause a quick recurrence.
The final phases of treatment, as well as prevention,
involve correcting any existing biomechanical problems
and a hamstring strengthening program. A good running
coach can help uncover any abnormal motion in running
and video analysis can help show the athlete what
is happening. Weak abdominal muscles are often the
cause of an anterior (forward) pelvic tilt. Finally,
eccentric exercises are vital for the prevention of
- the muscle lengthens as it exerts force (e.g. lowering
a weight). This can be done with the hamstring by
using ankle weights, or using specific exercise equipment.
One method to perform eccentric exercises with hamstring
curl equipment is to raise the weight with two legs,
and then slowly lower with one.
This article is posted with permission of Dr. Mark
Jenkins and SportsMedWeb.
NOTE: THE MEDICAL INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS
ARTICLE IS OF A GENERAL NATURE AND CANNOT BE SUBSTITUTED
FOR CARE PROVIDED BY A QUALIFIED HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.
THE CONTAINED INFORMATION DOES NOT ESTABLISH A DOCTOR-PATIENT
RELATIONSHIP, AND FIGHTINGARTS.COM, THE AUTHOR OR
RICE UNIVERSITY CANNOT TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR ITS
USE, OR MISUSE. EVERY EFFORT HAS BEEN UNDERTAKEN TO
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HOWEVER, YOU MUST INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY WHETHER THE
MEDICAL INFORMATION IS APPROPRIATE TO YOU BY CHECKING
WITH YOUR DOCTOR.
About The Author:
Dr. Jenkins is Direction of SportsMedWeb. He is
a Board Certified medical practitioner, Director
of the Student Health Service at Rice University
and Associate Team physician for Rice University
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