A hamstring injury can be incredibly painful. Basically, it occurs when your large muscles and/or tendons at the back of your thighs are torn. It is a common injury, particularly amongst athletes. Luckily, these injuries do heal without intervention, requiring little else but rest.
What Are Hamstrings?
Hamstrings are tendons (which are very tough fibres) found in the back of your thighs. These tendons attach the thigh’s large muscles to the bone in the thigh. There is also a muscle there, which is also referred to as the hamstring. The hamstring muscle starts just under the buttocks and goes all the way through the thigh. It connects the pelvis to the bottom of the leg. When we walk or stand, we don’t use this muscle much. However, as soon as we start running, climbing or jumping, it becomes really active. Basically, as soon as we start to bend our knees, we use our hamstring muscle.
Signs and Symptoms of Hamstring Strain
Various actions can cause anything from a minor hamstring strain to a high hamstring strain. It often happens as a result of a sudden lung, run or jump, which can all lead to tears in the muscles. You can feel this, but sometimes you can even hear a pop, at which point you will feel pain immediately. You will then notice that your muscles go into spasm, feeling tender and tight. In a moderate hamstring strain, you should only feel pain but in more severe tears, your leg will swell and bruise.
The pain you feel depends fully on how bad the tear is. Grade one is a mild hamstring strain. The worst kind is a grade 3, where your muscle will actually have ruptured completely. This will leave you out of action for several months. Unfortunately, once you have had a hamstring injury, you are more likely to have another one.
Treating Hamstring Strain
If you rest the hamstring until it feels better, you can expect a full recovery. The time can be anything from a few weeks to a few months. It is best to speak to a doctor or physiotherapist to gain some advice on how long the injury will last. Rest means you cannot run or jump, but walking, cycling and swimming is fine so long as you are not in too much pain.
You can relieve the pain with over the counter painkillers. Besides this, make sure your leg is elevate and keep it cool with an ice pack (frozen peas in a tea towel work great). Repeat this every few hours and keep the pack on for about 10 minutes, particularly on the first 2 days after the injury.
You can also purchase cream for hamstring strain. Hamstring strain gel usually contains some ibuprofen.
Stretching and Exercises
Staying inactive for too long isn’t good for you. If you really do nothing, your hamstring will start to shrink and the tear will start to fill with scar tissue, which would be permanent. Once the worst of the pain is over, after perhaps two days of rest, you should do some stretches designed specifically for the hamstring. Then, you should start walking and cycling again, thereby strengthening your hamstring. Never go back to full activity until the pain is gone and you have been given the all-clear by a physiotherapist.