Pulled hamstring could be very painful. Worse, severe ones make it almost impossible to walk or even move your feet. The pain is accompanied with inflammation that must be controlled ASAP. This injury happens when muscles at the back our thigh are overloaded or torn. The condition is common to football players, runners and athletes whose activities include jumping or sudden stop and start.
The hamstrings are made of three muscles (semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris) just at the back of the thigh. These muscles make bending and flexing possible. Strained hamstring is likely to happen if you don’t warm up before activities. It may also happen when the thigh’s muscles are tightened or when the glutes become weak.
Pulled hamstring can be cured with self-care measures starting by managing the pain and swelling at home. Surgery for pulled hamstring is only required in very rare cases.
What you need to know . . .
Hamstring injury is often classified into 3: Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3. Grade 1 pulled hamstring is characterized by mild muscle strain, Grade 2 involves partial muscle tear and Grade 3 pulled hamstring is characterized by complete muscle tear. Recovery time will depend on the severity of the injury. A Grade 1 case can heal in as fast as a few days while Grade 3 pulled hamstrings may take longer to heal and at some rare incidents, might need surgery. Physical therapy remains the mainstay treatment for strained hamstrings.
RICE Therapy at home for hamstring injury
RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends RICE therapy as an effective pulled hamstring treatment:
- Rest. Take a break from the activity that caused the strain. Your doctor may recommend you to use crutches to avoid putting weight on your leg.
- Ice it. Use cold packs for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
- Compress. To prevent additional swelling and blood loss, wear an elastic compression bandage.
- Elevate. To reduce swelling, recline and put your leg up higher than your heart while resting.
Pain relief for strained hamstring
You can use over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help ease out the pain. You may also opt for a cane or crutches to avoid putting weight to your leg. Minimize pulled hamstring swelling by wearing a compression bandage.
Preventing future re-injury
Statistics cited that athletes are 20% more prone to re-injury and it is most often because of lack of good pre-and-post activity routines. Warm up throughout before doing any activities with stretches to prep your hip flexors. Do a simple hip flexor stretch by creating a forward lunge position and then drop your back knee to the floor. Raise arms over your head and look up. Press your hips forward and downward, feeling the stretch through your hip, groin and thigh. Hold this for about 30 seconds then do a gentle release. Repeat on the other leg.
“Cool down” or post-activity routines or stretches are also essential. Retro-running or backward running sessions can also decrease hamstring injury. Keep an eye on your nutrition and sleep as much as needed.
Summit Medical Group recommends these four exercises that can be done at home.
Standing hamstring stretch: Put the heel of the leg on your injured side on a stool about 15 inches high. Keep your leg straight. Lean forward, bending at the hips, until you feel a mild stretch in the back of your thigh. Make sure you don’t roll your shoulders or bend at the waist when doing this or you will stretch your lower back instead of your leg. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
Hamstring stretch on wall: Lie on your back with your buttocks close to a doorway. Stretch your uninjured leg straight out in front of you on the floor through the doorway. Raise your injured leg and rest it against the wall next to the door frame. Keep your leg as straight as possible. You should feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
Slump stretch: Sit slouched in a chair with your head bent down. Straighten your injured leg and move your foot toward you. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Relax and then repeat 2 times.
Prone knee bend: Lie on your stomach with your legs straight out behind you. Bend the knee on your injured side so that your heel comes toward your buttocks. Hold 5 seconds. Relax and return your foot to the floor. Do 2 sets of 15. As this gets easier you can add weights to your ankle.
Effective pulled hamstring treatment by qualified clinicians
Start your way to completely eliminate pulled hamstring pain with a no obligation appointment from pt Health Sturgeon Valley. Get one on one advice from an experienced clinician for your hamstring injury. Since 1992, our team of qualified clinicians have successfully treated many patients including hamstring injuries. There will be a customized rehabilitation program made according to the severity of your injury and perfectly fitted with your lifestyle so you can get back to action the soonest possible time.