A hamstring gets strained when one or more of the three muscles that make it up become overloaded. A hamstring injury can result. Such an injury may be painful and require medical attention.
A hamstring injury is a common occurrence, especially among those who play sports such as soccer, basketball, and football. Also, runners and skaters are prone to hamstring injuries.
What Causes a Hamstring Injury, and What Does it Feel Like?
There are several causes of a hamstring injury. As stated above, playing certain sports, especially those that cause frequent starting and stopping, puts you at risk for this type of injury. Not warming up before a workout or game and having weak glutes and/or tight quadriceps can also contribute to a hamstring injury.
The intensity of pain of a hamstring injury varies from person to person. It can be anywhere from mild to extreme. Sometimes, you’ll feel a popping or snapping when you get a hamstring injury. Tenderness and bruising can also be signs of such an injury.
4 Tips for Dealing with a Hamstring Injury
The only way to know for sure whether or not you’ve injured your hamstring is to check with a physician or physiotherapist. When you know a hamstring injury is what you’re dealing with, you can take these four steps to help heal yourself and get to feeling better:
1) Rest your leg — When you get a hamstring injury, rest your leg. This will prevent further strain from being put on your muscles and give your hamstring a chance to repair itself.
Depending on how severe the pain is, you may need to use crutches to keep as much weight as possible off your leg. A physician or physiotherapist will let you know if you need crutches. When you rest your leg, try to elevate it to the level of your heart to reduce swelling.
2) Use ice — Ice will be your best friend during the first couple days after your injury. Apply ice packs to the affected area several times a day for the best results. A healthcare professional will let you know how often to use ice, for how long, and for how many days following your injury.
3) Work with a physiotherapist — Did you know that physiotherapists routinely treat hamstring injuries? They can help you work through your injury much more quickly than you could on your own. Also, a physiotherapist can teach you how to prevent future injuries.
“After the initial pain and swelling of a hamstring injury subside, your doctor or a physical therapist can show you how to perform specific exercises designed to improve flexibility and strengthen your hamstring muscles,” stated the Mayo Clinic.
4) Use compression gear — If you’ve never used a compression bandage, now is the time. Wrapping your leg in a compression bandage will bring down swelling. So will wearing compression shorts. These two items are good investments to make if you have a hamstring injury.
Severe muscle tears may require surgery. Your physician or physiotherapist can help you navigate this if your injury is serious.
Have you ever experienced a hamstring injury? If so, how did you cope with it?