Hamstring injuries are one of the more debilitating injuries that an athlete can sustain during the course of a game. From an athlete’s standpoint, hamstrings are vital in performing dynamic activities such as running, climbing and jumping. Steelers’ offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert has been sidelined since week 2 against the Minnesota Vikings after sustaining a hamstring injury, with no specific timetable for his return, although there are whispers he may return on Sunday.
To get a better sense of the nature of Gilbert’s injury, I reached out again to renowned Family Medicine and Sports Medicine Physician, as well as Writer/Podcast Contributor for The Fantasy Doctors — Dr. Jesse Morse.
TPOP: Marcus Gilbert has been sidelined with a hamstring injury for the last 3 weeks and there is no indication yet of his return. I had no idea an injury like this could be so debilitating. Can you explain how serious this type of injury can be?
Dr. Jesse Morse: Hamstring injuries can be very debilitating depending on the severity of the strain. They go from grade 1 to grade 3, 1 being minimal. The more injury to the muscle, the more severe the strain and the more time it will take to return. There are three main hamstring muscles.
Sometimes an ultrasound or MRI are used to determine the severity of the strain. Grade 3 strains can take easily up to 12 weeks to heal.
Running full stride requires complete activation of the hamstrings; partial treatment/healing can lead to re-injury, starting back at square one. Time and certain partial exercises, are used for hamstring strains. Sometimes if there’s a complete tear, PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) or surgery is needed. Like groin injuries, hamstring injuries can re-injure very easily if not allowed to fully heal.
TPOP: How is an athlete’s range of motion affected by this type of injury?
Dr. Jesse Morse: Leg flexion & extension can be compromised depending on the location of the strain. There are basically 3 different locations; proximal which is near the buttocks, mid substance which is in the middle of the leg, and distal which is near the knee.
As Dr. Morse pointed out, complete activation of the hamstrings is needed for full range of motion; this is especially necessary in pass protection for a tackle, as balance and body control is necessary when they make that kick step outside. Gilbert’s importance to the Steelers’ offense cannot be understated. Based on everything noted, this type of injury requires the healing time necessary to ensure Gilbert can come back and be effective rather than a liability to his team.