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Child Orthopedics
Spine - Cervical
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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My physician thinks I tore the gracilis muscle of my hamstrings. I guess this is a fairly unusual injury. No one seems to know how to rehab it -- or if I can keep training while recovering. Can you shed any light on this injury and how to handle it?

The gracilis muscle is part of the hamstrings along the back of the thigh. The hamstring muscle is divided into four parts: the semimembranosus, semitendinosis, biceps femoris, and gracilis. Isolated gracilis hamstring tears are uncommon. Posterior thigh strains affecting the biceps femoris are much more common. To help answer your questions, we found a recent report on seven athletes with an injury of this type. There wasn't just one sport that was associated with these injuries. Dancers, soccer players, tennis players, and even a tae kwon do enthusiast were injured. The mechanism of injury (how it happened) was similar for all seven. Pulling the leg in toward the body (a movement called adduction) combined with full hip flexion and internal (inward) rotation was what did it. The knee of the injured leg was straight. Picture a ballet dancer doing a split with one leg bent. High speed moves like this apply enough tension to the muscle that it can no longer resist the force. The result is a tear at the muscle-tendon junction. How did things turn out for these athletes? Everyone recovered fully within six weeks with conservative (nonoperative) care. Full motion, strength, and function were reported by everyone. A recheck 12 months later revealed no further injuries (or reinjuries) of the hamstring muscle. These athletes did continue to train during the recovery phase with some modifications in their training routine.


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