How to Treat a Pulled Hamstring

How to Treat a Pulled Hamstring

Knowing how to treat a pulled hamstring can save you days of agony. These essential tips are most likely to help prevent the pain, swelling, and bruising that can affect 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 make rapid recoveries with these every day 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 down 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 just have no control over. It's what happens when you find yourself 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 has passed where your injury is less bothersome, bring on some heat (but only if you don't feel any more pain or swelling). Heat with a herbal heating pad will help stimulate blood flow to the area so it can repair itself quicker in the meantime. Just be careful not to overheat since too much warmth around an injured area could make things worse!


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 taken off but needs to 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 muscle around so as not to sideline yourself for too long!

Anti-Inflammatory Painkillers

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may or may not bring a smile to your face depending on how often you've experienced any runner's injuries in the past. However, they do indeed 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 some 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 will be able to help you find the right routine using strength training that will also help your leg heal faster so you can avoid re-injury in the future.

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling your muscles can aid in recovery after an intense workout. Some athletes take advantage of these benefits by rolling out as part of their stretching routine, and 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.

Medical Treatment

A muscle tear is an injury that often requires medical attention. This can lead to a moderate or severe injury so it's good to get to a physician when possible. A pulled hamstring can be very painful, and if you refuse treatment you could run the risk of 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.

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist is closely overseen by a licensed doctor in their specialty. During your first appointment, your therapist will evaluate your injury and put together a treatment plan. Their goal with you will be to help you restore the full function of your leg by regaining muscle strength, improving 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 on your own 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 simply necessary to align the tendon via repositioning. Your doctor will discuss this with you when it comes time to decide on your leg injury.

Safe and Effective Treatment for a Hamstring Pull

A pulled hamstring is a very painful injury, and it is the most widespread injury of this type. Home treatment with RICE, medication, exercise, and foam rolling will help speed up healing any time one over-extends their hamstrings to the point of muscle strain. If your injury occurs more dangerously like through participating in another sport or activity, you might have to call on the efforts of a physical therapist and maybe even 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!

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