Hamstring Contracture in Children:  

Hamstring ContractureHamstring contracture is a condition characterized by the shortening and tightness of the hamstring muscles.  This condition leads to a limited range of motion in the hip and knee joints. While hamstring contractures can affect individuals of all ages, this article focuses specifically on children. It explores the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available for this condition.  Therefore, the purpose is to increase awareness and understanding among parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.

Causes of Hamstring Contracture in Children

Several factors can contribute to the development of hamstring contracture in children. Understanding these causes is crucial in managing and preventing the condition effectively.

  • Congenital Factors: Some children may possess congenital conditions that predispose them to hamstring contracture. An example includes arthrogryposis, a condition characterized by joint contractures.  Another example is developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), which can affect normal hip joint development.
  • Neuromuscular Disorders: Certain neuromuscular conditions, such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and spinal muscular atrophy, can lead to hamstring contractures.
  • Postural Factors: Prolonged periods of poor posture, such as sitting in a slouched position, can contribute to tightness in the hamstring muscles.
  • Inactivity: Lack of physical activity and sedentary behavior can result in muscle weakness and tightness, including the hamstrings.

Symptoms of Hamstring Contracture in Children

Identifying the symptoms of hamstring contracture in children is essential for early detection and intervention. Some common signs include:

  • Limited Range of Motion: The most noticeable symptom of hamstring contracture is the reduced ability to fully extend the leg at the knee joint. For this reason, children may have difficulty straightening their legs or fully bending them towards the buttocks.
  • Walking Abnormalities: Children with hamstring contracture may display altered walking patterns. This can include walking on tiptoes, a crouched gait, or exaggerated swinging of the leg to compensate for the restricted movement.
  • Muscle Imbalance: Tight hamstring muscles can lead to imbalances in the muscles surrounding the hips, knees, and lower back. This may result in postural abnormalities, such as a tilted pelvis or increased curvature of the spine.
  • Muscle Fatigue and Discomfort: Children with hamstring contracture may experience muscle fatigue or discomfort in the hamstrings after physical activity or prolonged periods of standing or walking.

Treatment Options for Hamstring Contracture in Children

The treatment of hamstring contracture in children aims to restore flexibility and improve functional movement. The specific approach depends on the severity of the contracture and underlying causes. Here are some common treatment options:

  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy plays a crucial role in the management of hamstring contracture. A skilled physical therapist will develop a personalized treatment plan, including stretching and strengthening exercises.  Additionally, physical therapy will provide manual techniques to lengthen and loosen the hamstring muscles.
  • Orthotic Devices: In some cases, doctors will recommend orthotic devices, such as ankle-foot orthoses (AFOs) or knee orthoses, to help stretch and maintain proper alignment of the lower limbs. These devices help children with neuromuscular conditions.
  • Botox Injections: Botulinum toxin (Botox) injections temporarily relax the hamstring muscles and improve the range of motion. This can be helpful in cases where conservative treatments have not provided sufficient results.
  • Surgical Intervention: In severe cases of hamstring contracture, doctors will consider surgical intervention. The specific procedure will depend on the underlying cause and severity of the contracture. Surgical interventions can involve lengthening the tight hamstring tendons through a procedure called a hamstring release.  Furthermore, surgery can address other contributing factors, such as correcting joint abnormalities or addressing muscle imbalances.
  • Surgeons: The surgeons at Medical City Children’s Orthopedics Spine Specialists are experts in treating children with Hamstring contracture.  We treat surgery as the last resort.  Give us a call and make an appointment for your child.

Prevention and Management Strategies

Preventing hamstring contracture in children involves a combination of proactive measures and ongoing management. Here are some strategies that can help:

  • Encourage Physical Activity: Regular physical activity and exercise promote overall muscle strength, flexibility, and joint mobility. Obviously, encourage children to engage in age-appropriate activities that involve stretching and strengthening the hamstrings, such as swimming, cycling, and yoga.
  • Maintain Good Posture: Teach children the importance of maintaining good posture while sitting, standing, and performing various activities. Encourage them to sit with their backs straight and supported, avoiding prolonged slouched positions.
  • Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: Incorporate hamstring stretching and strengthening exercises into children’s daily routines. Patients should perform these exercises under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional or physical therapist to ensure proper technique and safety.
  • Regular Check-ups: Schedule regular check-ups with a pediatrician or healthcare provider to monitor the child’s musculoskeletal development and identify any potential signs of muscle imbalances or contractures.
  • Ergonomic Considerations: Ensure that the child’s environment, such as school desks and chairs, is ergonomically designed to promote proper posture and reduce the risk of developing muscle imbalances.
  • Collaboration with Healthcare Professionals: Establish a collaborative relationship with healthcare professionals, including pediatricians, orthopedic specialists, and physical therapists. Certainly, they can provide valuable guidance, monitor the child’s progress, and recommend appropriate interventions when needed.

The Importance of Early Intervention

Early intervention is crucial in managing hamstring contracture in children effectively. Naturally, detecting and addressing the condition as early as possible can prevent the progression of contractures, improve the range of motion, and minimize the impact on a child’s overall development and quality of life.

Parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals should be vigilant in monitoring children’s movement patterns, posture, and overall muscle development. Certainly, any concerns should be promptly discussed with a healthcare professional to initiate appropriate assessments and interventions.


Hamstring contracture in children can significantly impact their mobility and overall development. By understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and exploring the available treatment options, parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals can play a vital role in managing and preventing this condition.

Finally, early detection and intervention, along with a multidisciplinary approach involving physical therapy, orthotic devices, and, in severe cases, surgical intervention, can help children regain mobility, improve function, and enhance their quality of life. Through a combination of preventive measures, regular exercise, and ongoing monitoring, our doctors at Medical City Children’s Orthopedics Spine Specialists can support children in overcoming hamstring contracture and fostering their optimal musculoskeletal health. Also, we have offices in Dallas, Arlington, Frisco, and McKinneyGive us a call and make an appointment for your child.


National Library of Medicine: Hamstring Contracture