About the Hamstrings
Although it has become common to refer to the long muscles at the back of the thigh as the hamstring muscles or the hamstrings, they are in fact the the tendons that attach the large muscles at the back of the thigh to bone. The hamstring muscles themselves are the large muscles that pull on those tendons.
Anatomists refer to these as the posterior thigh muscles, and more specifically as the semimembranosus, the semitendinosus, and the biceps femoris muscles. These muscles span the thigh, crossing both the hip and the knee. They begin at just below the buttocks and connect by means of their tendons onto the upper parts of the lower leg bones, the tibia and the fibula.
Although the tendons themselves can sometimes be involved in injuries, in this blog we refer to the hamstrings as the large muscle group at the back of the thigh as this is where our clients most frequently encounter tightness, trigger point activity and injuries.
Who is prone to hamstring injuries?
The job of the hamstring muscles is to actively bend the knee and also to help straighten the hip - as in the motion of moving the thigh backward. The hamstring muscles are not employed to any great degree with normal walking or standing. However, they are extremely important in power activities such as climbing, running and jumping. Because of this, most people can get by with even quite weak hamstrings, whereas athletes and those who are very physically active will depend totally on healthy, and well-conditioned hamstrings.
Any activity that is associated with sudden acceleration when starting or during running can lead to a hamstring injury. Common athletic activities where hamstring injuries occur include track and field events, football, baseball, soccer, and tennis.
Hamstrings and Trigger Points
The hamstrings are amongst the most overworked muscles in the body. Whilst it's true that people who are less physically active are much less likely to develop hamstring injuries, they are still prone to developing trigger points in these muscles, especially for those who stand for long periods in their daily work, or as a result of poor quality footwear.
Left untreated, hamstring trigger points may lead not only to injuries in the hamstring themselves, but to many other painful disorders, including lower back, hip, thigh, and knee pain.
Stuart Hinds is a Team NAT lecturer and has been a soft tissue therapist for the Australian Olympic Team since Sydney 2000.
Tess Kirsopp-Cole is Australia's current U18 National 400 meter Champion
This trigger point 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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