News & Advice

Overworked Hamstrings

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Lazy derrière…. maybe there’s some truth in it!

I’ve always wanted to know how far I ran during a Hockey game, so, to compete with my teammates I had to buy a step counter. I clocked in at running approximately 5 miles! Even though my teammates are convinced my counter calibrated wrong (ironically as I clocked the furthest distance), it immediately put in perspective the level of stress we put our bodies through during a game. So, not only do we run miles, but we run it with a stick in our hands, reaching and moving a ball, all while we contort our bodies into unnatural positions.


It’s no wonder that the power-house muscle – situated at the back of our thighs – is put under a lot of stress during a Hockey game, when we have sprint intermittently for miles! Our hamstrings provide us with speed, taking a beating every time we work them for long periods of time. Therefore, strains in these muscles in particular can be quite common in Hockey players.

Strains often occur when the hamstring muscle itself is overworked and not strong enough. Other factors that influence injury are:

    • Poor warm-up – You should always make sure you warm up before a game. Passive and dynamic stretches are important for the Hamstring muscles.
    • Not cooling down – Again, a proper cool down and stretching regime should be adhered to.
    • Playing surfaces – A slippery surface will add strain onto the hamstring muscles, therefore, appropriate footwear should be worn.
    • Running mechanics – If you have a poor core stability, this will affect and overload the hamstrings because of the poor pelvic control. Often, lazy, inactive and weak derrière (bottom) muscles mean that the hamstrings have to overcompensate and become overloaded. Over-striding also adds strain through your hamstrings as your foot hits the ground.
    • Lower back problems – Nerve damage can weaken the hamstrings


Symptoms of a Hamstring strain

  • Mild Strain – Can often feel like a dull, mild ache and/or a tightness feeling.
  • Severe Strain – Can be extremely painful and you can find it almost impossible to walk, stand and sometimes sit. Bruising can be a sign of this.
  • Pain – Tends to be in the back of your thigh and/or lower buttock region. Often made worse by walking, stretching and bending forwards. You could feel a sudden pain, popping or snapping sensation.



In the first 72 hours adopt the POLICE protocol and avoid harmful factors such as:

  • Heat
  • Alcohol
  • Running and exercise
  • Direct massage/ indirect massage will be fine. Be sure to contact a Physiotherapist

Re-occurrence of Hamstring strains are common and often owing to poor rehabilitation. It is vital that you get an accurate diagnosis and sufficient treatment for your injury.

Physiotherapy treatment will aim to:

  • Reduce the pain and swelling
  • Strengthen your hamstring and the surrounding muscles, plus your core
  • Increase the flexibility of your muscles
  • Improve your neurodynamics
  • Improve your balance and agility
  • Overall decrease the risk of re-injury

Treatment options:

  • Massage
  • Joint mobilisations
  • Electrotherapy
  • Acupuncture and dry needling
  • Taping
  • Pilates
  • Biomechanical assessment
  • Exercises
  • Advice



  • Use POLICE in first 72 hours of injury.
  • Do not ignore Hamstring pain. It requires attention and a correct diagnosis as the sciatic nerve runs through the hamstring, meaning your pain could be referred from a pinched nerve.
  • Important to warm-up and cool down.
  • Rehabilitation is the key to prevent re-injury. Repeated injuries have unfortunately shortened many athletes’ hockey careers.


Kayleigh Vickers (Chartered Physiotherapist)

Kayleigh Vickers

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