Recovery After a Hamstring Injury

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Recovery After a Hamstring Injury

Almost all athletes, both professional and amateur, suffer their fair share of injuries. It’s something that can’t be avoided, no matter how hard one tries. Hamstring injuries are common in runners, skaters, football, basketball and soccer players. Basically, any physical activity that includes sprinting, jumping or sudden stopping and starting can result in this painful injury. Recovery after a hamstring injury is essential and you may need.

Hamstrings 101

The hamstrings are three large muscles located at the back of the thigh, extending from the pelvis to the top bones of the lower leg. They play an important role in walking, running and jumping. Generally speaking, their function is to allow the knee to bend and move the hips forward. The fact that the hamstrings are mainly used during power activities explains why they’re so susceptible to injuries. Whenever athletes accelerate or change direction quickly, they’re at a risk of sustaining a hamstring injury. Moreover, a comprehensive, 10-year research study has examined the incidence of hamstring injuries in the NFL, and it has showed that 74.4% of these injuries during non-contact were attributed to sprinting.

Grades of Injury

hamstring injury

There are three grades of hamstring injuries:

  1. A mild muscle strain – it usually takes a few days to recover from this level of injury.
  2. A partial muscle tear – this is a more serious injury which implies damage to the muscle, so it can take a few weeks to heal.
  3. A complete muscle tear – this is a severe injury, and sometimes even surgery is required to treat it.

Prevention is better than a cure, especially bearing in mind that hamstring injuries are likely to become chronic. In order to avoid them, you should do stretching exercises regularly. Warming up before starting your training is crucial for reducing the likelihood of all kinds of injuries, so make sure to include it in your workout routine. Besides that, a poor running technique is also one of the main culprits for this kind of injury. A proper running form can significantly reduce the risk of sustaining hamstring injuries, so before you decide to hit the track, you’d better work on your technique. Another usual mistake concerns inappropriate training loads. Sprint drills and high-speed work should be done right after the warm-up, because fibers in the hamstrings tend to fatigue quickly.

On the Road to Recovery

Even if you do everything by the book, injuries may occur. Hamstring strains and tears are very unpleasant and painful, but there are some tips that can help you alleviate the symptoms. Painkillers can help, but follow your doctor’s orders or the directions on the label. Here are some useful things you can also do:

  • Resting your leg is very important, so using crutches when you have to walk is the best option.
  • Applying ice to your hamstring can help with the pain and swelling. Do this 3 times a day for about 20 minutes and make sure not to apply it directly to your skin.
  • Using an elastic bandage to compress your leg can reduce swelling.
  • Using a heat therapy device, such as the Doyle’s Physio heat pad, will provide pain relief and other healing benefits.
  • Elevating your leg when you’re sitting will help you reduce swelling.

Physiotherapy treatment is recommended because re-injuries are more likely to occur if the rehabilitation process wasn’t properly conducted. This means that you should, by all means, opt for physiotherapy even if your injury heals well, in order to prevent recurrent hamstring injuries. Don’t forget that a well-balanced diet and keeping yourself hydrated are of paramount importance for your overall well-being and staying injury-free.

Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for better life.
After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for better life.

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