In this post we look at why hamstring strains can reoccur. Even after a significant period of rehabilitation.
A recent Australian investigation into recurring hamstring strains has concluded that the problem may not be with the muscle itself.
The authors found that following injury, the hamstring can remain in an inhibited state even after lengthy periods of rehab.
What is muscle inhibition?
When your body experiences trauma to a muscle. the response of your central nervous system (CNS) is to prevent it from contracting. This is logical and promotes rest and healing in the tissue.
In the mean time your CNS will orchestrate a solution to the problem, asking other muscles to work a little harder to compensate.
In the short term this is great. In the long term however it can lead to re injury either at the original site, or in one of the muscles being asked to compensate.
The authors found that in the subjects they tested, all had dysfunction in the previously injured muscle. This despite being in rehab programmes for an average of 10 months.
So how do you resolve this issue?
If you’ve been diagnosed with damage to the muscle itself then the tissue will need to heal before you attempt to load it.
Tears are surprisingly uncommon so seek medical advice to understand exactly what has happened.
Once you’ve been cleared to load the muscle, the priority should be to re-establish communication between the muscle itself and the CNS.
We do this using Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) but low intensity isometrics into the shortened position of the muscle work well.
When the muscle is able to contract throughout its range, it should be loaded specifically and progressively to increase it’s tolerance of exercise.
If this is not done well it will remain a weak link and increase your risk of suffering further injury.
Tight hamstrings? Read why stretching won’t change that.