Hamstring pulls are painful, lingering injuries, which any active person hopes to avoid! Runners, soccer players, football players, basketball players, and rugby players are most at risk. In a hamstring pull (also called a hamstring strain or tear), one of the hamstrings gets stretched too far and starts to tear. Depending on the severity of the strain, you may hear a “pop” or a “snap”, or even feel something popping or snapping. It will likely be very painful to walk immediately after the injury and for up to a week afterwards, and you may notice bruising and swelling.
Causes of hamstring pulls
-Neglecting a proper warmup which includes dynamic stretching
-Quad muscle:hamstring muscle imbalance
-Sprinting faster than the muscle can handle
-Over-reaching the leg out to kick or trap a soccer ball
Home treatment of hamstring pulls
-Rest leg and ice hamstring for 20 minutes every 2 hours
-Severe strains may require using crutches to take weight off injured leg
-Elevate leg on a pillow or folded blanket when you sit down
Other treatment of hamstring pulls
Some hamstring pulls, especially if they are minor, will heal up on their own. If your injury has been dragging on for several weeks or months and you still are unable to return to your activities, there is hope! Many hamstring injuries respond quite well to physical hands-on treatment. When the muscle first gets overstretched, the body lays down a patch (adhesions aka scar tissue) which is designed to protect the area from further injury, but the patch is a weakened area that does not move as well as normal tissue, is a source of pain, and creates a condition of decreased proprioception. These adhesions do not usually go away on their own. There are several hands-on treatment methods that can reduce those adhesions, two of the most effective being Active Release Techniques and Graston Technique.
Another modality that will help decrease the time you are out due to a hamstring pull is Kinesiotaping. Professionally applied to the involved hamstring(s), it can reduce swelling, increase circulation, support hamstring muscle, and decrease pain. Once the adhesion is reduced, a hamstring strengthening program can be started. This will restore the hamstring strength, and decrease the probability of future hamstring pulls. If you have any questions about hamstring injuries, or would like to schedule an appointment to have your injury evaluated, please give us a call at (510) 465-2342.