Written by Michelle Champlin BSc Pod., M.Ch.S., S.R., Ch., (UK)
Hamstring injuries constitute the third most common footballing injury, after ankle and knee injuries. Your ‘hamstring’ is a collection of muscles at the back of your thigh. They tend to occur without trauma. You tend to see a player pull up suddenly when accelerating suddenly or sprinting for the ball. The injury can be mild to severe, depending on how many of the muscles are involved and to what extent (e.g. full tear). You can be more at risk of a hamstring injury with previous hamstring injuries or underlying weakness to the thigh muscles or a biomechanical anomaly of the leg – which your Podiatrist will assess and advise on. Custom orthotic therapy from an appropriately qualified sports podiatrist can address and correct any anomaly, coupled with strengthening exercises.
Symptoms include the sound of popping or cracking at time of injury, swelling, pain or bruising to the back of the thigh, and pain when bending (flexing) at the knee. You may also find yourself walking with a limp.
What should you do if you suspect a hamstring injury?
Apply PRICE to the back of the thigh, with the knee fully bent. Seek medical attention and ensure you get a full biomechanical assessment from a biomechanics sports Podiatrist.
P Protect the area from further injury – immobilize by strapping, padding, crutches etc. If a fracture or dislocation is suspected, do not attempt to straighten – immobilize and seek immediate medical attention.
R Rest the area. Do not attempt to be brave and play on as this will lead to worsening the injury and longer time out in the long run.
I Ice the area. DO not apply ice directly to the skin but protect with a cloth or towel. Ice for 15-20 minutes at a time.
C Compression to the ankle with crepe or elastic bandage to help minimize swelling. Do not use adhesive tape – this should only be applied by qualified healthcare professionals such as podiatrists or physiotherapists. Check every few minutes to ensure the bandage is not too tight.
E Elevate the area comfortably by lifting the ankle just above head height to reduce swelling.
Michelle Champlin, Chief Podiatrist at Dubai Podiatry Centre, has devised a range of custom sports orthotics, specifically for footballers and to be worn within slim-fitting football cleats. Mrs. Champlin’s custom orthotics are designed specifically to address the rapid acceleration and deceleration, twisting, turning and pivoting movements that are integral in football. Every person’s alignment and gait pattern is unique, and even a relatively minor mal alignment can end up causing either chronic wear and tear damage to the ankle, knee and hip over time, or make the player more susceptible to tripping, twisting their ankle or knee, impairing balance or making a sprint less efficient and slower.
Good biomechanics and leg health and strength can give footballers the winning edge. If you suffer an injury during your 5-a-side weekly kick-about or if you’re playing at the highest club level, it is vital to ensure no leg, ankle or foot injury goes untreated and should always be checked out thoroughly by your Podiatrist. Mrs. Champlin sees all ranges of players from kids at soccer camp to professional footballers playing at international level.
If you’ve experienced an injury while playing or have any concerns about your feet, ankle and legs contact Dubai Podiatry Centre for a detailed assessment and expert treatment, on 04 3435390.