HOW DOES IT HAPPEN?
A hamstring muscle strain typically occurs when the muscle is contracted with excessive force in a stretched (lengthened) position. This commonly occurs during running or sprinting just before or after the foot hits the ground.
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE?
When the hamstring muscle is strained, you may feel a sudden pain or “tearing” sensation in the back of the thigh as a result of the damage to the muscle fibers. With a minor strain you may be able to continue with your activity with minimal restrictions. However, as the muscle cools down after activity, pain may gradually increase as bleeding and swelling around the injured muscle continues. This may be associated with progressive tightening and stiffening of the hamstring muscle group. In more severe strains these sensations may be exaggerated such that you are unable to continue participation due to excessive pain in the thigh, muscle tightness, weakness and spasm. In these cases, the pain may be so intense that you may be unable to walk without a limp. There may also be obvious swelling and a visible defect in the muscle
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
To limit the severity of this injury it is advised you stop activity immediately and start initial treatment. The most important time in the treatment of any injury is the first 24-48 hours. Swelling is a necessary step in the healing process, however, too much swelling can delay healing and cause further tissue damage. To control the amount of swelling and limit degree of damage to the hamstring muscle the RICE regime should be started ASAP (rest, ice, compression and elevation).
COULD THERE BE ANY LONG-TERM EFFECTS?
Most hamstring strains will heal without complications within a number of weeks. However, if this tight or weakened hamstring group is not rehabbed with the correct gradual exercise progression the hamstring is more likely to be re-injured with return to activity.
The Sports Medicine Doctor at Toronto SEMI can help to determine if this injury is affecting you and can determine the exact tissues that are damaged and the extent of this damage. The Registered Physiotherapists and Massage Therapists can use a number of manual treatment techniques and modalities to assist in reducing pain and swelling and enhance the healing of the injured structures. Our sports medicine team will provide you with the essential exercise progressions you need which aim to increase your range of motion, strength and function. With the proper treatment you will return to sport and be able to focus on the game without the worry of injuring your hamstring again.
Brukner P& Khan K (2009). Clinical Sports Medicine 3E, McGraw-Hill Professional