How to Strengthen Hamstrings to Recover from and Reduce Injury

Jul 9, 2021

How-to-Strengthen-Hamstrings-to-Recover-from-and-Reduce-InjuryUnfortunately, the hamstring is a commonly strained area of the body, and it can be extremely painful. While the injury is especially linked to sports injuries, it can occur for a number of reasons, sometimes with seemingly little reason or as a result of repetitive use instead of a single incident. A hamstring strain typically heals, but managing symptoms is important, and they can become a recurring issue. With a proper combination of pain management, physiotherapy, and rest, hamstring injuries can be both managed and prevented in the future.

About Hamstring Injury

Rather than a single muscle, the hamstring is actually a group of three separate muscles: the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris. These muscles run down the back of your thigh and facilitate bending your knees and movement of the hips. If any of these muscles are injured, this is what is known as a pulled hamstring. In severe cases, one of the muscles may even start to tear.

Hamstring injury is one of the most common injuries in athletes. Any activity that involves a lot of running, jumping, or sudden stopping and starting is likely to cause damage to the hamstring. This is even more common if you forget to warm up during exercise or you have weak glute muscles.

Some hamstring injuries will barely hurt, while others can be debilitating and cause an inability to walk. This may be accompanied by pain and a snapping or popping feeling during movement, tenderness, or bruising.

Treating a Hamstring Injury

Most hamstring strains will heal on their own with some gentle care and time. Some things you can do to manage pain and help your hamstring heal include:

  • Rest: As much as possible, you should avoid putting weight on your leg. Severe cases may require crutches, but in general, walking carefully is enough. As part of physiotherapy, you may be shown ways to walk that avoid too much pressure.
  • Ice: To help with pain and swelling, applying ice to the painful area for chunks of 20-30 minutes can be helpful.
  • Compress: An elastic bandage around the leg can reduce swelling.
  • Elevate: When sitting or lying down, keep the impacted leg elevated on a pillow.
  • Medication: To manage pain, over-the-counter medications can be helpful and even address inflammation. You should discuss all use of medication with your doctor and moderate intake, as these options hide pain but do not address the root cause of your injury.

While rest is important, you will also want to make sure you are moving the leg to regain strength and mobility over time. You may be sent for physiotherapy to create a set of exercises with this goal in mind, and some exercises can be performed at home to continue your progress.

Preventing Hamstring Injuries

People whose hamstrings are injured by sports usually return to the activity, leading to a very high rate of recurrence. Runners with a hamstring strain will injure it again within a year over 60% of the time. Not only does this cause more pain, but it creates a cycle of missing more time running. The good news is that both before and after an injury, steps can be taken to prevent damage to the hamstring from happening in the future.

To prevent a hamstring injury, some simple steps you can take include:

  • Warm-up and stretch before any physical activity.
  • Ramp up the intensity of your exercise slowly.
  • Stop exercising if you feel any pain in the back of your thigh.
  • Stretch and strengthen your hamstrings regularly.

Three Hamstring Exercises

Some people choose to undergo physiotherapy as a part of their athletic endeavors as a preventative measure, or to heal from an injury. Even if you are working on stretches at home, there are a few simple exercises you can use to prevent or heal injury- all you need is a resistance band!

Hamstring Stretch: Lay flat on your back on the ground and loop a resistance band around one foot, holding the other end in your hands. Stretch the leg up towards the ceiling and then lower it slowly.

Hamstring Curl in Prone: Lay on your stomach, wrapping one end of your band around your left foot and the other around your right ankle. Keep the left foot against the floor and bend your right knee, raising your foot, then releasing. Repeat and switch sides.

Hamstring Curl in Standing: Loop your band around your left foot and stand on it, then loop the other end around your right ankle. Bend your right knee, raising your foot, then returning it to the floor. Repeat and switch sides.

If you suspect a hamstring injury, you should consult a doctor before performing exercises at home. AICA Jonesboro offers everything from early consultations to physiotherapy- contact us today to get started!


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