A pulled hamstring is a common injury when one or more of the hamstring muscles in the back of the thigh are stretched too far. The hamstring muscles are responsible for bending the knee and extending the hip. A pulled hamstring can occur suddenly, such as when you suddenly change direction while running, or it can develop gradually over time.
Symptoms of a pulled hamstring
The symptoms of a pulled hamstring can vary depending on the severity of the injury. However, some common symptoms include:
- Pain in the back of the thigh
- Swelling in the back of the thigh
- Tenderness in the back of the thigh
- Difficulty walking or running
- Difficulty bending the knee or extending the hip
How to Treat a Pulled Hamstring
Knowing how to treat a pulled hamstring can save you days of agony. These essential tips will help prevent the pain, swelling, and bruising affecting sprinters and other athletes. A pulled hamstring happens when one of three muscles at the back of your thigh is stretched beyond its normal capacity, but it's often possible to reduce the effects through simple home treatments like icing and rest. While surgery is occasionally necessary in extreme cases, many people rapidly recover with these everyday tips!
When you have a muscle injury, rehabilitation using the RICE acronym is a great place to start. Recovery starts immediately after injury. Learn more about it here:
As with any injury, rest is vital to let your body heal. You'll need to rest your injured leg by sitting or lying down to prevent further harm and ensure the best possible recovery time for your hamstring strain. If it's painful to sit or stand on your leg, call your doctor and grab a pair of crutches for added support - then sit somewhere comfortable!
Heat and cold
There are some things that we have no control over. It's what happens when dealing with an injury - specifically, a muscle injury! They can be awful, but at least we know how to treat them.
After the initial onset of pain, numbness, and swelling, use cold therapy packs on your thigh. It will numb the pain while helping to reduce inflammation and swelling! After a while, when your injury is less bothersome, bring on some heat (but only if you don't feel any more pain or swelling).
SACKSY THYME Cold Therapy Pack is perfect for Pulled Hamstring:The SACKSY THYME Cold Therapy Pack is designed to provide targeted cold therapy to the affected area, reducing inflammation and swelling. The pack is made with a soft, comfortable fabric that molds to the contours of the body, ensuring maximum coverage and efficacy. The cold therapy pack is easy to use, simply place it in the freezer for a few hours and then apply it directly to the injured area for up to 20 minutes at a time.
Heat with a Microwaveable Heating Pad will help stimulate blood flow to the area so it can repair itself quickly. Be careful not to overheat since too much warmth around an injured area could worsen things!
SACKSY THYME Microwaveable Herbal Heating PAD
The SACKSY THYME heating pad is designed to be heated in the microwave, making it a quick and convenient option for those in need of relief. The pad is filled with natural herbs such as thyme, lavender, and Peppermint, which work to promote relaxation and reduce inflammation. When heated, the pad emits a soothing aroma that helps to calm the mind and body, making it an ideal choice for those experiencing discomfort from a pulled hamstring.
Home treatment of a hamstring strain includes compression with extra support provided by an elastic bandage, tape, or brace. An elastic bandage is easily put on and removed but must be re-tightened once every hour. A compression bandage reduces swelling and can be a single layer over the area of pain for support and protection. Tape is more restrictive but provides more protection than thin gauze or washcloths. Supportive braces are easy to put on and leave on all day until the initial pain has eased to only mild aches in your hamstring region.
The last piece of the RICE acronym is Elevation. When you sit on your couch or bed with a leg injury, the goal is to elevate it so that swelling can decrease and blood can circulate back to the heart and increase blood flow. With pressure applied through Elevation, you may get muscle spasms. It's important to keep moving your muscles around so as not to sideline yourself for too long!
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may or may not make you smile, depending on how often you've experienced any runner's injuries. However, they reduce pain, swelling, or fever, and all these medications can be found over the counter without requiring a prescription. They typically come in pill form, although topical creams are also available. As with most things, if you're thinking about changing brands that are already working for you, it's worth talking to your doctor or pharmacist first because there could potentially be consequences such as unwanted side effects that can also include stomach upset, allergies, and headaches name but a few.
Stretches and Exercises
After the pain and swelling of a pulled hamstring have subsided, it's time to begin healing. To get your range of motion back, start with flexibility exercises, like yoga or pilates. A physical therapist can help you find the right routine using strength training to help your leg heal faster so you can avoid re-injury in the future.
Foam rolling your muscles can aid in recovery after an intense workout. Some athletes take advantage of these benefits by rolling them out as part of their stretching routine; some foam rollers can even double as a support for stretching. Athletes who run, swim, or play football will often foam roll to help prevent shin splints if they happen to over-pronate. Avoid using a foam roller if you have any swelling or bruising. However, it is highly recommended to consult your chiropractor before using a foam roller.
A muscle tear is an injury that often requires medical attention. This can lead to a moderate or severe injury, so getting to a physician is good when possible. A pulled hamstring can be very painful, and if you refuse treatment, you could risk postponing the healing process even more. To speed up recovery as best as possible, consider seeking assistance from a medical professional for treatment, such as physical therapy or chiropractic care.
A physical therapist is closely overseen by a licensed doctor in their specialty. During your first appointment, your therapist will evaluate your injury and create a treatment plan. Their goal with you will be to help you restore the full function of your leg by regaining muscle strength, improving your range of motion, and flushing out pain through any swelling or inflammation causing discomfort. They will guide you through specific exercises and stretches that can be done in the office, but once they feel comfortable enough with your progress, they will advise you on some things you can do independently at home.
Surgery for a pulled hamstring is only necessary in the worst of cases! It's when your leg muscle completely severs away from your bone - in such an instance, it's crucial surgery take place. There are different levels of severity when it comes to the tear itself; sometimes, surgery is necessary to align the tendon via repositioning. Your doctor will discuss this with you when it comes time to decide on your leg injury.
How to prevent a pulled hamstring?
Here are some things you can do to help prevent a pulled hamstring:
- Stretch regularly: Stretching the hamstring muscles can help to keep them flexible and less likely to get injured.
- Warm up before exercising: Warming up before exercising can help to prevent injuries.
- Cool down after exercising: Cooling down after exercising can also help to prevent injuries.
- Wear supportive shoes: Shoes that provide good arch support can help to reduce stress on the hamstring muscles.
- Avoid sudden changes in direction: Sudden changes in direction can put stress on the hamstring muscles.
- Gradually increase your activity level: If you are new to running or walking, start slowly and gradually increase your activity level. This will help to prevent injuries.
- Listen to your body: If you feel pain, stop and rest. Don't push yourself too hard.
Safe and Effective Treatment for a Hamstring Pull
A pulled hamstring is a very painful injury, the most widespread injury of this type. Home treatment with RICE, medication, exercise, and foam rolling will help speed healing any time one over-extends their hamstrings to the point of muscle strain. Suppose your injury occurs more dangerously, like through participating in another sport or activity.
In that case, you should call on the efforts of a physical therapist and a surgeon. Your doctor is the best place to turn when it comes to getting some guidance on dealing with an injury; always let your doctor know exactly what has happened so you know for certain that you are managing your recovery successfully!