The hamstrings play a crucial role in many daily activities, such as, walking, running, jumping, and controlling some movement in the trunk. The hamstrings cross and act upon two joints – the hip and the knee and they are influenced by the lumbar spine.
One of the most common injuries among athletes is a pulled hamstring. We see a lot of runners and footballers with this kind of injury.
To understand this injury, it is important to first understand the structures that make up this portion of the leg.
The hamstring itself is not actually a single structure. It is a group of four muscles that provide support between the pelvis and the knee. Three of the four muscles actually cross the knee joint and are connected to the tibia (lower leg) by a series of tendons; the fourth muscle connects at the knee joint. If you stand straight and bend forward to touch your toes, you will feel all four hamstring muscles being stretched (mentioned here to make you aware of where the muscles are, NOT a good way to stretch hamstrings or lower back!!)
As far as the injuries are concerned, there are two types of pulled hamstrings. The most common involves the muscles in the back of the leg. The injury is caused by a sudden shock presented by jumping, kicking, or accelerated running. Those suffering from this injury will note pain in the back of the thigh along with swelling and, in some cases, bruising.
The second pulled hamstring injury involves the area where the muscle group meets the pelvis. This is the less common of the two, and manifests itself with pain in the buttocks and the back of the upper leg. The pain increases every time the foot comes in contact with the ground or it may be uncomfortable to sit for a long period of time.
Both types of pulled hamstrings can be treated by a chiropractor through deep tissue massage techniques, stretching and adjustments to the lumbar spine to increase mobility of the lower back. It is worth mentioning here that a chronic lower back problem can cause tightness in the hamstrings. This increases the risk of sustaining a sprain/strain injury to the hamstrings (pulled hamstring).