Hamstring strain is one of the most common lower body injuries. This type of injury occurs when a part of the hamstring muscle group suffers a tear. It’s most often seen among athletes in sports such as football, soccer, and track. Sustaining this type of injury makes you more susceptible to repeat injuries in the future. This is especially true if you don’t have a proper recovery.
Thankfully, hamstring strain is easily treatable with physical therapy. The physical therapists at Freedom Health Centers are trained in the rehabilitation of hamstring strains, as well as a number of other injuries. They can help you through your recovery and teach you how to prevent reinjuring the area.
What is Hamstring Strain?
The hamstrings are the muscle group in charge of bending your knee and straightening your hip. It consists of three muscles on the back of the upper leg. These muscles connect your leg to your pelvis. Injury occurs when this muscle group experiences excessive force during activities such as running, kicking, heavy lifting, and jumping hurdles. It is also common in sports where athletes suddenly change direction or experience sudden starts or stops in movement.
Symptoms depend on the degree of the injury. This injury can cause a range of symptoms from a muscle cramp feeling to sudden sharp pain on the back of the upper leg. Most people don’t realize the extent of their injury until the following day. Hamstring strain is frequently accompanied by bruising, tenderness, and swelling. In severe cases you may have impaired mobility or discomfort when sitting or walking.
Diagnosis of Hamstring Strain
A physical therapist can easily diagnose hamstring strain based upon your symptoms and a recount of your recent activity. They’ll ask about your pain level and use palpation to determine the exact location of the injury. It’s also common for them to check your range of motion and muscle strength to determine the extent of your injury.
There are three categories of hamstring strain. Grade 1 is a mild strain with minimal tearing. This commonly feels like a cramp or pulled muscle. Grade 2 injuries are moderate strain with a partial tear. This degree of injury is often accompanied by a stinging or burning sensation. Grade 3 injuries are the most severe. This occurs when there is a severe or complete muscle tear. You’ll likely experience significant pain, reduced mobility, and a bump where the muscle is torn.
Treating Hamstring Strain with Physical Therapy
A physical therapist will work with you to develop a treatment plan personalized for your injury and activity level. They will walk you through recovery and provide you guidance through recovery. Treatment will begin right away. For the first two days after the injury you’ll be instructed to rest the area and apply ice four times per day for about fifteen minutes at a time. Your physical therapist may also have you use a compression wrap to help ease pain and swelling.
As the initial pain begins to subside your physical therapist will start you on gentle exercises. These will include stretching and flexing your hamstring muscles. As your muscle continues to heal your physical therapist will add additional exercises. These will help increase your range of motion, flexibility, and strength.
Your physical therapist will discuss your goals with you and individualize your treatment plan to meet your needs. They will also help you learn the proper way to move without putting stress on the injured area. This is an extremely important part of the process because hamstring strains are very easy to reinjure.
Preventing Hamstring Strain
After you’ve sustained a hamstring strain injury, you’re much more likely to experience the same injury again. The most important preventative measure is properly warming up before activity. It’s also important to use proper form and technique during all exercises. This is especially true when lifting or squatting with heavy or large objects. You should also pace yourself and slowly increase frequency and intensity over time instead of starting with too much weight or too many reps.
Follow your body’s cues, stretch adequately, ice and rest as needed. Make sure you allow yourself plenty of recovery time after strenuous activity. Be sure to talk to your physical therapist if you have any questions about your recovery or if you are unsure about when you can return to specific activities.
Our expert staff is highly educated and extremely experienced in treating a number of injuries including hamstring strain. Their superior knowledge will reduce your pain and help you quickly recover properly. Be sure to keep the lines of communication open during your recovery. Stay honest about your activities and symptoms to allow our staff to treat you to the best of their ability. Our professional physical therapists can work with you to reduce your recovery time while minimizing your chances of reinjuring the area. Reach our offices today to speak with a qualified expert and get on the fast track to recovery.