The hamstrings are amongst the most overworked muscles in the body. There's a common myth that hamstring injuries are the domain of athletes and don't generally affect the rest of us. The reality is that even standing upright requires continuous performance from these muscles, making them prone to develop trigger points, which in turn may lead not only to injuries in the hamstring themselves, but to many other painful disorders, including lower back, hip, thigh, and knee pain.
When one muscle group is much stronger than its opposing muscle group, the imbalance can lead to the development of trigger points, and eventually to the process whereby these trigger points become active. In the world of athletics this is frequently recognized as something that happens with the hamstring muscles. The quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh are usually more powerful. During high-speed activities, the hamstring may become fatigued faster than the quadriceps. This fatigue will then lead to hamstring strains.
The exact same thing happens when you replace the concept of "fatigue" with trigger points. Whilst in the case of an athlete it is likely to be a sudden over-exertion or over-training that causes the muscle fatigue, in the rest of us (non-athletes) it is commonly the development of trigger points over time that leads to muscle "fatigue" and the onset of musculoskeletal pain, and injuries.
Trigger point activity is almost always connected with any form of muscular overload. For example, people who work in the retail industry, airlines, waitering, or any other occupation that requires being on your feet for extended periods are likely to develop trigger points in the hamstrings.
In the world of athletics, it's generally accepted that muscle overload is the main cause of hamstring muscle strains (ex. when the muscle is stretched beyond its capacity or faced with a sudden load).
However, what is often overlooked is that trigger points (often latent) are responsible by making their host muscle shorter and weaker which in turn makes the muscle more vulnerable to overload. Similarly, trigger points in one muscle will often result in other muscles becoming overloaded as they work to compensate for the muscle weakened by trigger points. Again, this applies to all of us, not just athletes.
Tight muscles are vulnerable to the development of trigger points. Again, using the comparison to athletes, it is obvious and natural for anyone who performs regular sports, that they need to stretch their hamstrings and receive regular massage. So what about the rest of us? So may of us use our hamstrings day in day out to perform our daily activities, without a second thought for looking after them.
Consequently, over a period of years and sometimes decades, these muscles become weakened through the development of trigger points. Without us realizing what's taking place, our body compensates for our tighter, shorter and weakened hamstring muscles, by overworking other muscles to help us get through our daily routines.
Eventually, these other muscles begin to send us signals that they are overworked, which is when people walk into our clinics with that knee, thigh, or lower back pain!
This trigger point therapy blog is intended to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or to substitute for a medical diagnosis and/or treatment rendered or prescribed by a physician or competent healthcare professional. This information is designed as educational material, but should not be taken as a recommendation for treatment of any particular person or patient. Always consult your physician if you think you need treatment or if you feel unwell.
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