Why do Muscles Strain?
Muscle injuries or ‘strains’ can be painful and stop you from doing the activity you love. There are a number of potential causes including:
- Muscle overload: where the muscle is stretched beyond its capacity or challenged with a sudden load.
- Eccentric contractions: when the muscle is lengthening as it is contracted eg during sprinting the hamstrings are lengthened and loaded as the back leg pushes off to propel the runner forward.
- Muscle tightness: tight muscles are vulnerable to strain.
- Muscle imbalance: the opposing muscle group (eg quadriceps) can be more powerful and during high-speed activities the hamstrings can become fatigued faster than the quadriceps. Fatigue reduces the energy-absorbing capabilities of the muscles – making them more susceptible to injury.
- Poor conditioning: If your muscles are weak, the will fatigue quicker. As above, they are less able to cope with stress.
If a muscle strain is not addressed appropriately, muscle fibers can re-knit incorrectly, exposing a functional weakness in the already compromised muscle. This can increase the risk of re-injury and long-term dysfunction. Physiotherapy treatment and a graded rehab program is paramount to promote optimal healing and negate the chance of chronic issues.