Physiotherapy for Hamstring Strains

Hamstring strains happen when any of your hamstrings muscles or its tendons is stretched beyond what it can withstand or torn when substantial stretching of the muscle occurs. Hamstring strains are fairly common in sports activities requiring the athlete to forcefully run or jump (sports injuries). A hamstring strain is also called a pulled hamstring or hamstring tear. An inflamed hamstring tendon is called hamstring tendonitis.

Your hamstrings or hamstring muscles are located at the back of your thigh. You have three hamstring muscle. They are the semitendinosus, semimebranosus, and biceps femoris. Together, they help bend your knees as you lie face-down; lift your foot toward your back (without bending your hip); and help you walk normally.

Causes of hamstring strains

Hamstring strain occurs when any of your hamstrings or its tendon is overstretched, overused, or overexerted during a sports or recreational activity such as sprinting, kicking or jumping. Athletes at risk for hamstring strains may include
  • Those who participate in certain track and field events, such as sprinting, long jumps, hurdles, or long-distance running
  • Basketball players
  • Football, rugby and soccer players
  • Certain martial arts players

Exercising improperly, such as increasing the duration or intensity of your workout too much or too soon, may also lead to hamstring strains.

Symptoms

Symptoms of hamstring strains depend on the severity of your injury. However, the most common symptom of the condition is pain at the site of the injury. Other symptoms may include
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness at the site of your injury
  • Difficulty moving your injured limb
  • Bruising
  • Muscle weakness
  • A "popping" sensation at the time of your injury

Physiotherapy Treatments

During your first visit to physiotherapy provider, your therapist will likely ask about what you were doing when you had your injury. You should inform your therapist about any previous or related injuries to your hamstring muscles. Your physical therapist will also perform a thorough evaluation and examination of your hamstrings and related thigh structures.

Physiotherapy Treatment Options for Hamstring Strains

Depending on the severity of your hamstring strain, you may be receiving a combination of the following
  • Recommend rest
  • Ice and or heat application
  • Electrotherapeutic modalities such as ultrasound or TENS
  • Recommend crutches / Crutch walking training
  • Gentle range of motion exercises
  • Gentle stretching (manual or active)
  • Progressive strengthening exercises
  • Work or sports-related strengthening program
  • Patient education
    • About their condition
    • Precautions to observe
    • Activity or work modification
    • Injury prevention

You may be advised to follow a home symptoms management and exercise program, which can help speed up your recovery.

The rehabilitation program that you will get will depend on the severity of your injury and the goals that you want to achieve.

When you can return to your usual activities will be based on whether you achieve a full range of motion that's pain-free and maximum muscle strength or not. Your health care provider will be able to help you determine whether you are at your maximum performance or not.

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