We engage our hamstrings every day when walking, running, bending, and even jumping. When you suffer a hamstring injury, it can really affect your ability to go about your day without experiencing pain and discomfort. The hamstrings are a group of three muscles on the back of the thigh just under the buttocks. This group of muscles is what you engage when you squat, jump, tilt your pelvis, and raise your leg behind you. An injury to any one of these three muscles or nearby tendons and ligaments can benefit from physiotherapy as you heal and recover.
How Hamstring Injuries Occur
Injuries that are common with athletes include those of the hamstring, though anyone can pull or strain a muscle in the back of the leg. A strenuous workout or a slip and fall accident can also lead to a hamstring injury. The severity of hamstring injuries ranges includes mild, moderate, and severe. Most hamstring injuries are mild to moderate and involve minimal damage to the muscles and a healing and recovery period that can take a few days or a few weeks. Most hamstring injuries are muscle sprains, which are more commonly known as pulled muscles. These types of injuries can occur with overuse or when the muscles are overstretched.
How to Diagnose a Hamstring Injury
If you see a doctor for a hamstring injury, then they will likely perform a physical examination to assess the affected area. This may involve examining the area to pinpoint spots of tenderness and inflammation. Your doctor may also want to run diagnostic tests like an X-ray to rule out a fracture or an MRI to get a clearer understanding of how the soft tissues may be damaged.
How to Heal from a Hamstring Injury
Most mild cases of a hamstring strain or injury will resolve after a few days. To support the healing and recovery process, you may try the R.I.C.E. method at home, which includes Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Rest the affected leg and try to avoid putting your full weight on your leg as much as possible. You can also apply ice or cold compresses to the hamstring to help relieve pain and reduce swelling. Wrapping the injured leg with a bandage or wearing compression shorts can also help to reduce swelling. When you rest your leg, it helps to keep it elevated, which also helps to minimize swelling. You may also talk to your doctor about physiotherapy exercises that can help you recover.
Examples of Exercises for Strengthening the Hamstrings
After all the swelling has gone down, you may want to try stretches and physiotherapy exercises to help regain strength and prevent future injuries.
Lie on your back with your knees up and feet firmly on the ground. Keep your head, neck, and upper body on the ground while you press your heels into the ground and slowly lift your pelvis and hips up into a bridge-like pose. Keep the abs engaged and hold this pose as you take a deep breath in and out before lowering to the ground. You may also use a resistance band around your thighs throughout this exercise to promote stability and further engage the hamstring muscles.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart like you are about to engage in a squat. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in your hands at your waist. Bend down into a squat position with the kettlebell between your knees. Extend the kettlebell backward before swinging it up in front of your chest at a 90-degree angle and moving from a squat to a standing position. Repeat this process and be sure to keep your back and neck straight and engage the muscles in your core, glutes, and hamstrings.
Stability Ball Hamstring Curl
Lie on the ground with your head, neck, and back aligned and your feet resting on a stability ball below your buttocks. Your knees should be bent at roughly a 90-degree angle and you will slowly press your feet into the ball to extend your legs to a straightened position. Once your legs are straightened and your feet are still on the ball, gently roll the ball back toward your buttocks by bending the knees and engaging the hamstrings.
Visit AICA Orthopedics in Conyers to talk with a doctor about physiotherapy exercises to help you recover from a hamstring injury and prevent any future injuries!