Hamstring strain injuries are one of the most common injuries in running sports and can take anywhere from two to six weeks or more to heal depending on the degree of injury.
It is important to rehabilitate hamstring strains well after injury, as they have a high recurrence rate and can become problematic for some people. Fortunately, our physiotherapists are very experienced in helping people to get back to the sport or activities they love, quickly!
What is a Hamstring Strain?
A ‘pulled’ hamstring or strain is an injury to the group of three muscles that are in the back of the thigh. The muscles are called the biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus and these attach from the bottom of your pelvis (your sitting bones) to the top of your shin bones, the tibia and fibula.
The hamstrings job is to bend (flex) your knee and straighten (extend) your hip.
How are the Hamstrings Injured?
The hamstrings are most commonly injured during running or other sports that require high speed, power or change of direction. They can also be injured during activities that put the hamstrings under a lot of stretch, such as kicking or dancing. The most common symptom experienced is immediate pain in the back of the thigh and being unable to continue the activity due to pain. Sometimes a ‘pop’ may be felt, and for more significant injuries, bruising may appear.
Hamstring injuries, like all muscle strains, can be graded from 1-3 depending on severity (1 being mild, 3 is severe). Your physiotherapist will be able to tell you the grade of injury based on their assessment findings, and how long it is likely going to take to you to get back to your usual sport or activities. They will also be able to provide you with the appropriate advice and information to best manage your injury. Most hamstring injuries can be managed with physiotherapy and rehabilitation; surgery is only required in very rare cases. Imaging is also not usually necessary to diagnose a hamstring strain.
Risk Factors for Hamstring Strains
There are numerous risk factors associated with hamstring injuries. Some of these risk factors we cannot change, such as gender or age.
Luckily, there are other risk factors that can be addressed, such as
- hamstring weakness,
- lack of flexibility, and
- muscle imbalances.
Your physiotherapist will be able to assess for contributing factors and advise you on the best way to address them.
Treatment for hamstring strains
The aim of immediate management of any soft tissue injury is to prevent further injury occurring. A common management approach for the initial 48-72 hours after injury is PRICE:
Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate.
Physiotherapy treatment focuses on
- managing the injury,
- getting you back to full function and
- preventing re-injury.
Treatment may include
- massage and manual therapy,
- dry needling,
- education on biomechanics/ technique or advice or strategies such as warming up or cool down.
Treatment will also include
- prescribing you a rehabilitation program that will need to be progressed as your hamstrings heal and get stronger.
In our next post, we will discuss some rehabilitation exercises proven to decrease the time it usually takes to get back to running and sport after a hamstring strain.
To book with a Physiotherapist at either Burleigh Heads or Broadbeach please call 5535 5218
- Ramos G.A., Arliani G.G., Astur D.C., de Castro Pochini A., Ejnisman B., Cohen M. Rehabilitation of hamstring muscle injuries: a literature review. Rev Bras Ortop. 2016;52:11–16.
- Erickson L.N., Sherry M.A. Rehabilitation and return to sport after hamstring strain injury. J Sport Health Sci. 2017;6:262–270.