In stop-and-go sports such as football, high-speed skilled movements may result in a hamstring muscle injury. A quick burst of speed involving the hamstring could cause the muscle to tear. This is especially prevalent in an individual who is not properly warmed up prior to activity. This type of injury may require a lengthy recovery time and also involves an increased susceptibility for reinjury. Physical therapy will speed up recovery of the strained muscle by improving blood flow, mobility, and integrity of the tissue. Knee injuries are also among the most common injury endured by football players. These injuries typically involve sprains of the ligaments in the knee, most often the medial cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament and anterior cruciate ligament (MCL, PCL and ACL). These ligaments are important in maintaining stability of the knee especially during pivoting and starting/stopping movement. Trauma to these ligaments can vary in severity and may even require surgical intervention to reconstruct the ligament. Sprains can be treated with strategic stretching and strengthening of the hip, knee, and ankle to improve mobility and stability of the joint.
If you are suffering from an acute hamstring strain, here are the things you should be doing right now. It is incredibly important in the first few days to control inflammation. This can be done with icing the injured area for 20 minutes several times a day and keeping the leg elevated. It is also important to keep the leg moving by performing light stretching of the leg muscles and light walking. You will want to start performing hamstring stretching regularly in a pain-free range to maintain tissue integrity and begin the remodeling phase. Your physical therapist will help you develop an individualized regimen of stretching and strengthening with the purpose of remodelling and aligning collagen fibers for proper healing.
Knee sprains vary in severity. If you have a mild to moderate knee sprain, it is important to control inflammation in the first 48 hours. This can be done be resting the injured knee, using ice packs 20 minutes at a time several times per day, and keeping the leg elevated. If you are unable to bear weight or the joint becomes very painful or swollen, you may have a more severe sprain and it is recommended that you seek medical attention.
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Sherry, Marc A, and Thomas M Best. “A comparison of 2 rehabilitation programs in the treatment of acute hamstring strains.” Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 34.3 (2004): 116-125.
Logerstedt, David S et al. “Knee Stability and Movement Coordination Impairments: Knee Ligament Sprain: Clinical Practice Guidelines Linked to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health from the Orthopaedic Section of the American Physical Therapy Association.” Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 40.4 (2010): A1-A37.