Football season is on: watch that hamstring!

The Premier league season has just started with a couple of big surprises already. The transfer market is heading for a record this year but the number one priority of every club will be to keep their players in shape, whether they are new recruits or existing ones.

Hamstring injuries in particular will be watched very closely by the clubs’ physios. According to Football Association Medical Research Programme, hamstring strains are the most common injury sustained costing an estimated 90 days and 15 matches missed per club per season. [1]

Hamstring injuries often occur in sports where sprinting, or jumping is involved. It often occurs in football when sprinting, when the hamstrings are found to be lengthened maximally, but contacting at a high magnitude. Most commonly, the biceps femoris tendon is ruptured. The other two muscles that form part of this 3 muscle complex are semimembranosus and semitendinous.

The player often stops in their tracks after a searing pain grips the back of their thigh. Usually he/she should be able to amble (though dejectedly) off the pitch.

The injury is classified as a Grade I, Grade II or Grade III hamstring tear. Your physiotherapist or sports physician would be able to test the muscle to assess the level of damage to the muscle, and diagnose the grade of the tear.

Regardless of the classification, ice should be applied immediately for 10 min. Some type of compression (applied by someone qualified to treat sports injuries) could be useful to limit swelling.

Depending on the extent of your injury, you may require crutches, immobilisation, or possibly even surgery (rarely). If the injured player has numbness or pins and needles, there is a possibility that there is damage to the sciatic nerve.

It is imperative to see your physiotherapist as soon as possible.

The good news however, is that with an integrated rehabilitation programme involving concentric, eccentric, plyometric training, manual therapy, aerobic training and a return to sports programme involving sports specific drills, most footballers return to playing football.

At Vitality Physiotherapy, we have vast experience in treating both male and female footballers of varied abilities. If you a concerned about a hamstring injury that you may have sustained, whether it is recent or older, come in for an assessment, we will set you on the path to your recovery and get you back on the pitch!


[1] Information obtained from: The Football Association Medical Research Programme: an audit of injuries in professional football—analysis of hamstring injuries C Woods, R D Hawkins, S Maltby, M Hulse, A Thomas, A Hodson 11 February 2003 Br J Sports Med 2004;38:36–41. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2002.002352

Picture by nicksarebi –