The hamstring is made up of four muscles that run along the back of your thigh. Hamstring strains and injuries are common for athletes who participate in sports that require a lot of sprinting, like soccer or basketball, and occur when the muscle becomes overloaded or overstretched. When it comes to pain in the area down the back of your leg, how the injury occurred will play a role in the length of your recovery time.
What causes a hamstring injury?
Most commonly, hamstring injuries occur when the hamstring is lengthened or stretched as it absorbs the impact of your foot hitting the ground. Sometimes, a lower back injury will cause hamstring strain as the sciatic nerve runs through this area. You may be more prone to hamstring injuries if you don’t properly warm up before strenuous activities, if you have a muscle imbalance between the front of your thighs, or if you have weak glutes.
When should I seek treatment for a hamstring strain or injury?
Addressing hamstring injuries along with a proper return-to-activity program has shown to improve outcomes and prevent future injuries and permanent muscle dysfunction. Re-injured hamstrings can take up to 2.5x longer to heal. It’s important to seek out hamstring treatment if you experience symptoms such as: sudden pain along the back of the thigh, tenderness or bruising, or pain when bearing weight or straightening the leg.
How can physical therapy help with my hamstring treatment?
A physical therapist can pinpoint the exact cause of your hamstring pain and create a custom hamstring treatment program based on your unique condition and body. They’ll do a full body assessment, examining your lower back, legs, hips, and knees to pinpoint potential causes of the hamstring pain. They also may incorporate tools of their trade, including:
• Manual therapy to remove restrictions and improve range of motion through skilled, hands-on techniques.
• Custom strengthening and mobility exercises to protect against hamstring reinjury by strengthening muscle groups in each leg and targeting surrounding areas of weakness including the knees, hips, and core.
• Sports-specific movement analysis to retrain your movement patterns to prevent against over-striding while running or participating in high-demand activities.
Physical therapists can provide the necessary tools to prevent and/or treat hamstring strain and injury, allowing you to return to your favorite activities pain-free and better than ever! To learn more about how to prevent hamstring strain or to eliminate any current discomfort, book a physical therapy assessment today.
“My physical therapist saved me. She analyzed everything about my stance, walk, and tight muscles to develop a holistic stretching plan from my glutes and hamstrings down to the bottoms of my feet. The many tools she provided allowed me to walk again without pain.”