Hamstring Injuries

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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Is it possible to prevent a hamstring injury?

There is no foolproof way to completely avoid hamstring injuries. However, the risks can be minimized by paying attention to the principles of muscle strength and flexibility. Individual flexibility should be maximized by a regular stretching program as well as a period of warm-up and stretching before the intended athletic activity.

Optimal individual hamstring strength is at least half of the strength of the quadriceps muscle (muscle of the front of the thigh). Also, there should be minimal imbalance in strength between the right and left legs (the injured hamstrings should be about 90% as strong as the uninjured hamstrings). If necessary, a weight-training program should be instituted to optimally achieve these goals.

A well-balanced diet and appropriate fluid intake are essential to avoid electrolyte imbalance and dehydration. Dehydration can lead to muscle cramping, thereby increasing the chance of muscle injury. Excessive body weight increases the risk of muscle injuries in the lower extremities. Some experts have also advocated the use of nutritional supplements, such as antioxidants. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts at prevention and treatment, hamstring injuries will continue to be a common bane of the high-performance athlete as well as the "weekend warrior."

What is the prognosis (outlook) for hamstring injuries?

The outlook is generally good, but can require a period of rest by avoiding running and athletic competition. The length required for recovery varies depending on the severity of the muscle injury.

Where can one find more information about hamstring injuries?

"Hamstring Injury," Medscape.com

"Hamstring Strain," Medscape.com

REFERENCE:

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/20/2015

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