Hamstring strains happen because of an excess strain or pull on one of the three strings of muscles at the back of the thigh. This is a very common injury that affects athletes who participate in events or games that require fast sprinting and immediate halts. The strain on the muscle can be mild or very severe and if the muscles are stretched too far it may lead to muscle tear.
Grades of severity:
- Grade 1 – Refers to minor tear in the muscles
- Grade 2 – Refers to a partial tear of the hamstring muscles
- Grade 3 – Refers to complete rupture of the muscle strings
Risks that can lead to a hamstring strain:
- Participating in activities that include running, sprinting, and extreme stretching
- History of injury to hamstring muscles
- Poor flexibility of the muscles
- Inadequate warm up before strenuous exercises
- Growth spurts in teenagers
- Imbalance of muscles with front muscles being stronger than hamstrings
Mild cases of hamstring injuries may not present serious symptoms. When the strain is severe, it may cause pain and affect movements.
- Sudden and severe pain in the muscles
- Inability to continue the activity
- Snapping feeling in the region
- Severe pain at the back of the thigh while walking
- Difficulty in bending or straightening the leg
- Tenderness in the area
- Black or blue colored bruises along the back of the thigh
One should immediately see the doctor if the injury makes it difficult to bear weight on the leg or if movements like walking and bending are affected.
Mild to moderate injuries to the hamstring muscles may not require any specific treatment. They usually resolve on their own within a few days. Healing can be expedited by simple home remedies called ‘RICE’
- Rest – Adequate rest for the leg without applying strain and stress
- Ice – Applying ice compress till pain reduces
- Compression – Wearing compression bandages to prevent swelling
- Elevation – Keeping the leg in a raised position while lying down or sitting
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs would be helpful in alleviating pain due to the strain. Surgery is suggested only in case of very severe injuries. One should not try to revert to their normal level of physical activity until they can move their legs freely and feels that legs are strong enough to be used. Ensure that you do not have any pain while walking, running or jumping before starting with the routine activities.