How to prevent hamstring injuries in young hockey players
Hamstring injury is a very common injury that I see in young hockey players.
The Hamstring muscles is a the back of your thigh. It attaches to your sit bone, so if you sit up tall in your chair and feel the bones that you sit on, this is where your hamstring attaches to.
The attachment of the muscle to the bone is in the form of a tendon, this is a strong tissue that is harder than muscle and therefore less likely to tear. The main difference between growing athletes and adults is that the tendon in an adolescent is more likely to cause a strain at the bone and the connection with the bone and the tendon is still not cemented, whereas an adult will more likely injure the tendon its self. The strain on the bone is called an ‘apophysitis’ and if you kept aggravating this eventually you may cause a complete rupture. Also in an adult you are more likely to get a hamstring muscle strain rather than over load the tendon.
When is the hamstring being put under tension?
In hockey, your hamstring is being loaded a lot of the time, especially when you are:
- Running- the faster you run, the harder the hamstring has to work, so sudden sprinting to return back to defence or when you are out running an opponent.
- Lunges- if you thing how much you lunge or squat in hockey, just to trap the ball or even deeper to do a slap hit. These repetitive and deep lunges will not only load and work the hamstring they will also stretch it.
- Therefore in hockey, your hamstring needs to be STRONG and FLEXIBLE.
So when you are most likely to get a strain in your hamstring tendon?
The main reasons you may injure your hamstring are:
- If you haven’t warmed up properly (at the start of the match/ training)
- If you are tired from a heavy week of training and not recovered properly. (normally towards the end of a game)
- If you have not enough strength in your hamstring to cope. (making sure you keep strong through out the season)
Hamstring Apophysitis management
You know when you have injured your tendon immediately or after the session. The injury can be sudden if you over stretch for example and you feel it straight away or it may build during a few games. If you feel pain at the base of your buttock cheek or on your sit bone then its likely to be the hamstring tendon. This normally will need some rehab on it to avoid it progressing so don’t keep playing on it.
Remember the golden rule is to get aches and pains checked sooner than later as the longer you leave it the longer it will take to recover.
So, if the pain comes on after a match then you need to rest that tendon for a week using things like ice, and avoiding stretching it or any deep squats.
Once it settles down then its time to load that tendon and this can take up to 6weeks to get back in the full competetion. A good guide on how strong your hamstrings should be is by doing a single leg hamstring bridge and seeing how many you can do. If you are between 12-15byears old you should be able to do up to 20 single leg bridges. Also make a note of how each leg feels as often any weakness in muscles is a risk to injury.
Remember if you are not injured to start strengtening the hamstring and if you are injured make sure you are strong enough and painfree before you return to hockey. If you want to make sure you stay injury free for your season, get in touch!