Last week in Jamaica, Usain Bolt pulled out of the national finals following a second night of discomfort in his hamstring muscle during the evening race. He has been diagnosed with a Grade 1 muscle tear. This is potentially a big problem as he needs to qualify for the Olympic Games on the 22nd of July in London. 

Usain Bolt Running out of Time, Ronan Fallon, Physiotherapy, Personal Health, D6

Will he run out of time??

Firstly, what is a Grade 1 muscle tear? Put simply, muscle injuries are clinically graded on a scale of 1-3 with 1 being the least serious and 3 being a severe rupture.

If you are dealing with an Olympic athlete, he will probably undergo an MRI to confirm what the medical team already know from their clinical examination of the presenting problem. 

Secondly, what happens next? There is a battery of treatments that an Olympic athlete will probably receive. Usain Bolt has flown to Germany to see a specialist for further treatment. Ultimately, these treatments are designed to speed up the healing process. These can vary depending on all sorts of issues, mainly money!! There are a wide range of weird and wonderful treatments available to the elite athlete. However, Mother Nature’s physiological healing timeframes need to be acknowledged and respected.

Medical team, Usain Bolt, Personal Health,Ronan Fallon, Physiotherapy, Personal Health, D6

A reasonable analogy is that the fibres in Muscle tissue are similar to the strands of a rope. Once an injury has occurred, then the amazing human healing cycle begins. This can take weeks to fully return to somewhere close to the pre-injury condition.

Here’s the problem, the Hamstring muscle needs to be fully healed and strong before you can even attempt to put it through the most severe test which is flat out sprinting. You can see how this might be an issue in the 100M qualification for Rio.

Usain Bolt of Jamaica starts in the men's 200 metres heats during the world athletics championships at the Olympic stadium in Berlin, August 18, 2009. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler (GERMANY)Ronan Fallon, Physiotherapy, Personal Health, D6

I imagine that Usain is being managed extremely carefully as the medical and physiotherapy team attempt to combine the tricky task of accelerating healing and loading appropriately in an effort to prepare for the ultimate test on the 22nd of July.

Elite athletes such as Usain Bolt are obviously supreme physical specimens which generally helps shave a few days of the well-known recovery timeframes. Also, access to medical and physiotherapy services which I suspect will be babysitting him 24 hours a day is also a bonus. 

Usain Bolt, Bubble wrap, Personal Health,Ronan Fallon, Physiotherapy, Personal Health, D6

Bearing all this in mind, and considering that he is the fastest man on the planet, I suspect that he will be able to get through the qualification stages even if he is not 100% fit. It’s going to make that race very interesting viewing on the 22nd of July.

Whether an Olympic athlete or a recreational runner or 5-a-side player, muscle injuries are well understood and Chartered Physiotherapy can help with grading and managing recovery.

Tag a friend if you feel this article is relevant to them, or that co-worker who you think may find this useful. If you have any further questions or queries regarding muscle tears or any injury contact us at Personal Health on 01 4964002 or email