Watching Dybala limp off during Juventus’ game was a worrying sight.
Although details aren’t publicly available, videos showing the acute pain over his posterior thigh without any evidence of impact is quite suggestive of a hamstring tear.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Hamstrings in <1 minute.
Where are the Hamstrings?
Hamstrings are a group of muscles made up of the Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus and Biceps Femoris muscles.
They are a special type of muscle that crosses not one, but two joints. This means the hamstrings extend the hip joint as well as flex the knee joint.
What are the Risk Factors?
- Type of sport – footballers are notoriously prone to hamstring injuries because the game requires so much speed and pace which puts significant stress on the hamstrings.
- Muscle imbalance – while less common in professionals; recreational/amateur players often train improperly, leading to an imbalance between their Quadriceps and Hamstrings. Many players only train up the easily visible Quadriceps but forget the Hamstrings in the back, leading to an agonist/antagonist imbalance that results in excess strain on the weaker hamstrings.
- Tightness – stretching is always preached but rarely followed. Tight muscles are vulnerable to strain, a consistent stretching program can help reduce muscle tightness and thereby reduce muscle strain.
- Fatigue – with the number of games played in the various league and cup competitions, especially in a World Cup year; players are often devoid of the luxury of allowing their muscles to fully recover.
Depending on the severity of the tear, Dybala can expect to miss upwards of four weeks.
Most hamstrings injuries can be treated with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) and doctors will likely clear the player once the pain has subsided and strength is >90% of the contra-lateral side. The problem is that re-injury rates can be up to 50%.
Rare, serious injuries such as those with an avulsed piece of bone or a severe tear involving >2 of the four hamstring tendons might require operative management; and most probably indicating he will miss the majority of this season / and perhaps even the World Cup.