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Torn hamstring and hamstring strains.

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torn hamstring

A torn hamstring or strain are one of the most common injuries in sports. Hamstring strains occur frequently in activities that require a high degree of speed, power and agility such as soccer, rugby, tennis and running.

The hamstring consists of three large muscles, which are located on the back of the thigh; the biceps femoris is located laterally and the semimembranosus and semitendinosus are located medially. These muscles start at the lower part of the pelvis on our sitting bone and attach below the knee joint to the tibia and fibula. The hamstring muscle has two actions as it cross two joints; they help to extend the hip and bend/flex the knee.

hamstring anatomy

What can cause a torn hamstring or strain?

During contraction of the hamstring, tension is placed through the muscle. If this tension is too excessive due to too many repetition or high force, one or more of the hamstring muscles can tear resulting in a torn hamstring. This commonly occurs during the final part of swing phase as the hamstring reaches its maximal length acting eccentrically (lengthen while contracting) to decelerate the hip and knee in preparation for heel strike.

gait cycle

Hamstring strain classification

Torn hamstring and hamstring strains can be classified into grades 1, 2 or 3 depending on the severity of the injury.

  • Grade 1: is the least severe. It is the result of some minor
    stretching of the muscles and tendons. It is accompanied by mild pain
    and some swelling and stiffness. There is usually very little loss of
  • Grade 2: is considered a moderate strain and is the result of both
    stretching and some tearing of the muscles and tendons. There is
    increased swelling, bruising and pain associated and a moderate loss of
  • Grade 3: is the most severe strain. It is the result of a complete
    tear or rupture of one or more of the muscles and tendons. A grade 3
    strain will result in a large amount of swelling and bruising, severe
    pain and significant loss of function.

Risk factors

The single biggest risk factor for hamstring strain is having a history of a previous injury, other risk factors include:

Modifiable risk factors

  • Shortened hamstring length
  • Lack of hamstring flexibility
  • Strengthen imbalance
  • Insufficient warm-up
  • Fatigue
  • Lower back injury
  • Poor lumbar posture
  • Increased muscle neural tension
  • Pelvic instability

Non-modifiable risk factors

  • Previous injury
  • Age
  • Muscle composition
  • Race
  • Treatment


At The Physicaltherapy Centre we use a range of modalities when treating hamstring strains, these include soft tissue work (massage, Active Release Technique etc.), dry needling, mobilisation/manipulation and an individualised rehabilitation program.

Whether you are a weekend warrior or an elite athlete, our team of
skilled chiropractors can help to diagnose and treat you hamstring
injury and help to get you back on the road to recovery.

Give us a call today on (02) 9922 6116 or book online to arrange an appointment.

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