Pulled A Hammy? You're Not Alone.

I, your normally mild-mannered sports chiropractor, am sick of hearing everyone talk about their hamstring injuries.  Adrian Foster was quoted as saying they are “…part of the business…”. Joseph Addai wouldn’t know what to do or how to run if his hamstring wasn’t always injured.  It’s completely mind-boggling to witness the sheer volume of hamstring injuries that plague the NFL. When we accept that something always happens or is common place, we tend to stop looking for solutions.

The fact is, many of the hamstring injuries we’re seeing around the league could be avoided with proper training and myofascial (soft tissue) work.  I get a lot of slack about my view on this subject from my fellow sports injury professionals,  and, to be honest, I don’t care.  In my opinion 5-10 percent of hamstring issues are legitimate and the rest are a result of sheer laziness and lack of knowledge on the part of the training personnel and the athlete.  We look for three things in the evaluation of an athlete’s hamstring: muscle imbalance as it relates to the overall strength of the hamstring, glutes (rear end muscles), and quadriceps (muscle on the front of the leg); range of motion around the hip joint (flexibility); and the amount of adhesions or scar tissue in the tendons themselves.

In all fairness, treating and managing these injuries can be very tricky, especially at the high-speed skill positions.  A recent study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine stated that most injuries occur during the “short” preseason and that over 43% of hamstring injuries involve the defensive secondary and wide receivers positions.  I mean, think about it, when is the last time you saw a lineman grab the back of his thigh and limp off the sideline? Almost never. What position you play is a big factor in whether or not you will have a hamstring injury.  But it’s not the only factor.

So much of what we do in sport is window dressing.  If you and your buddies are playing ball in the yard and one of you pulls up lame, the rest of your buddies give you grief and laugh it up because we all know the truth.  You’re old, out of shape, and your body isn’t up to the task of performing  the activities that  you are asking it to perform.  In sports however, we sugar coat things. We don’t often tell a multimillion dollar athletes that their off season workouts aren’t that good or that he entered into preseason out of shape.  I’m not trying to write a negative article, but, in summary, I would state it this way:  If your favorite athlete pulls a hamstring during preseason practice, odds are he isn’t in shape and you may want to think twice before putting him on your fantasy team.  If your favorite athlete pulls a hamstring in the later part of the season, then it’s probably due to a strength issue or an adhesion in the tendon itself.

I don’t agree that these particular injuries are part of the game.  With proper treatment and training they could be significantly reduced.  So the next time you see someone “pull a hammy,” have a little more sympathy and understanding.  Unless it’s your favorite athlete during preseason.  If that’s the case feel free to give him grief under your breath because you know he’s out of shape and isn’t taking his job seriously.

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