How To Heal A Hamstring Injury

R.M.T Osvaldo 'Ozy' Bolanos

What is a hamstring injury? Technically it’s a strain, it can be also called a pull or a tear.

What type of pain would I feel if I pulled my hamstring? The moment of the pull you will feel a sharp pain in the site of injury. People often describe it as if something “ripped” or a “ripping sensation” in the site of the injury. It can also happen gradually.

When should I get treated? As soon as it happens we can start treating the area with cold compress to decrease inflammation and keep mobility.

What are some examples, or typical causes for a hamstring injury? The two main causes of muscle injuries will be over stretching or over contraction of the muscles or a combination of both. This often happens with sudden violent movements when the muscle is fatigued or not ready to do what you are trying to do. One example of this will happen when you are violently accelerating during a sprint, or when you are sprinting and suddenly stop and/or change directions while kicking a soccer ball. This is a very common injury in soccer and any sports that requires sprinting.

What parts of the body/muscle groups are compromised if I pull my hamstring? The injury can occur in any of the muscle tendons (close to your gluteal fold or behind your knee) or in the middle of the muscle belly. If you are lucky the injury will happen in the middle of the muscle mass. This part of the muscle has greater blood supply than the muscle tendon and greater blood supply equals faster recovery.

What do you do differently at Honsberger Physio+ to treat a hamstring injury?
A hamstring won’t heal properly if its not treated, which can create excessive scar tissue that will limit its ability to stretch and contract, making it prone to re-injuries in the future. Massage therapy will help a speedy recovery and will reduce the excessive scar tissue making the muscles more pliable and heeling better overall; but at Honsberger we also target the possible causes or contributing factors of a hamstring strain like muscle and pelvic imbalances, poor conditioning, chronic muscle tightness, etc. A combination of physiotherapy and massage therapy is the most common used and the most effective.

Why is this type of therapy helpful?  Massage therapy and physiotherapy complement each other providing you with good care, from the initial stage when you first pull the hamstring (decreasing inflammation, pain and keeping mobility) until when you are ready to return to your sport activity (getting your muscles ready, stronger and decreasing the chances of reoccurrence).

How long does recovery take on average? The time of recovery will vary depending on the severity of the injury, a grade 1 strain could heal within a week but a grade 3 strain may take months to recover.

What stretches should I do? It’s important to know you shouldn’t over stretch an injured muscle, your therapist will tell you when you should start stretching those muscles and what stretches to do, this will vary from person to person depending on the severity, the sport and conditioning of the athlete.

Do I need heat or cold treatment? The first few days the treatment should be ice or cold compress to reduce inflammation. What at-home remedies can I do to help? The first home care you should do is what therapists call RICE (Rest, Ice Compression and Elevation) in which you will rest from any activity that may cause damage to the muscle, ice the injury site and wear a compression sleeve or a compression bandage to minimize swelling and if possible elevate the leg. After a week or two depending on the severity of the injury and the stage of healing you are at, your therapist may start applying heat to stimulate the blood flow to the area and help the healing process.

How will I know when I am fully recovered? Your therapist will advise you on a rehabilitation program that will include stretching and strengthening exercises as well as some functional exercises that will prepare the muscle for your sport specific activities. Once you can do all the stretching, strengthening and specific exercises at top capacity and pain free you may gradually be reintroduced to the sport.

Any other tips? Prevention is the best cure!

  • Getting regular sports massage can prevent hamstrings injuries by releasing tight muscles and identifying muscles imbalances that may lead to injuries.
  • Always warm up before starting your activity
  • Strengthen your muscles so they can handle the activity you are doing
  • Follow a stretching routine before and after the activity
  • How to tape a hamstring injury
  • A tape application is used in weak or hypertonic muscles to help in the prevention of strains or in muscles rehabbing from a strain as a method of support.

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Orthopedic Rehabilitation
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