If you’re an athlete who relies on speed or quick changes of direction, you lean heavily on your hamstring muscles every time you take the field. If your hamstring muscles end up overloaded during a moment of acute stress, you can suffer a strain or a larger muscle tear. Not only are they uncomfortable in the moment, but hamstring injuries are prone to linger if you don’t care for them in the right way. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the best ways to treat a hamstring injury so that you can heal quickly and reduce your risk that you suffer an aggravation of the previous injury.
Hamstring Anatomy And Injury
Your hamstrings are a group of three muscles on the posterior thigh. It is made up of:
- The biceps femoris
- The semitendinosus
- The semimembranosus
These muscles start on the posterior lower pelvis and traverse down the thigh before inserting medially and laterally below the knee on the fibula and tibia (except for the short head of the biceps femoris, which originates from the lower femur). Collectively, these muscles help to perform a variety of functions, like hip extensions, knee flexion and hip hyperextension.
A hamstring strain can involve an injury to one of more of the muscles that make up the hamstrings. You may feel an uncomfortable burning or catching sensation deep in your middle thigh, followed by continued pain and difficulty walking or running normally. Discomfort tends to subside when putting less strain on the area or sitting/lying down, but you’ll feel these sensations again once you put stress on the hamstring during movement.
Treating A Hamstrings Injury Once And For All
Hamstring injuries can be one of the more difficult injuries to put to bed for good, especially if you aren’t smart about your approach to rehab. Muscle strains typically start to feel better after a few days or weeks of rest or activity avoidance, but rest alone isn’t going to get you to where you need to be if you’re an athlete. Rest helps to protect the muscle while the body works to heal it, but because the muscle was damaged during the strain, rest alone isn’t going to help it get back to a pre-injury level of strength. Many people assume they are back to normal once symptoms are nearly gone or have fully subsided, but they don’t realize the hamstring is still weak despite the lack of pain. The first time they try to push themselves to a normal level of athletic activity, the muscle injury flares up, sidelining them for even longer.
So while rest is a crucial first step in helping a hamstrings injury heal, it cannot be your only form of treatment. Even with a gradual reintroduction to athletic activities, you are at a heightened risk of re-injury if you don’t help the injured muscle or muscles return to a pre-injury level of strength and fitness. The best way to do that is by connecting with a physical therapist.
At OrthoRehab Specialists, most of our specialists played high school or college sports, so they understand the movements and forces at play during athletic competition. They understand how to help strengthen the hamstring so that you can get back to performing all of your sport-specific movements without fear of re-injury. We’ll develop an individualized training plan that strengthens the specific area of your hamstring that has been weakened and give you some home-based exercises to perform so that you can continue your progress when you’re not at the clinic.
By working with a physical therapist, you can also help to ensure that your muscles develop uniformly in your lower body. Sometimes injuries are not just the result of a weakened muscle, but a larger discrepancy in development between muscles that work in unison. For example, overdeveloped quadriceps muscles and underdeveloped hamstrings can put you at a heightened risk for injury. We can conduct movement screens and other physical exams to ensure that related muscle systems all develop as needed to keep your risk of a recurrent hamstrings injury at a minimum.
When it comes to overcoming a hamstrings injury, you need to give your body plenty of rest before gradually re-strengthening the injury muscle. Taking a little extra time to ensure that the hamstring has fully recovered can greatly reduce your risk that a setback occurs once you get back on the field. To put an end to your new or recurrent hamstrings injury, pick up the phone and call the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today at (612) 339-2041.