A hamstring muscle strain refers to a pull of / tear in the muscle which covers the back of the thigh.
A hamstring strain typically occurs when the muscle is contracted with excessive force in a stretched position – this is common during running or sprinting just before or after the foot hits the ground. In this position, the hamstring muscle group is stretched over the back of the hip and knee joint whilst it is working hard to slow down the forward swinging leg while propelling the body forward.
The first sensation you will feel is a sudden sharp pain in the back of the thigh due to damage to muscle fibres. At the same time, you may have a ‘tearing’ sensation. With a minor strain, you may be able to continue with participation with minimal restriction. However, as the muscle cools down following activity pain may gradually increase as bleeding and swelling around the injured muscle continues. In more severe strains, you cannot continue with sport participation due to excessive pain in the thigh, muscle tightness, weakness and spasm. In these cases, pain may be so intense that you may not be able to walk without a limp. There may also be obvious swelling and bruising as well as a visible defect in the muscle.
Physiotherapy is the most important part of conservative treatment. It includes various treatment modalities including manual therapy, mobilisation techniques, electrotherapy modalities, exercise/technique modification, dry needling, exercise and stretching etc. Eccentric loading/strengthening is important to prevent recurrences.
Other treatments include:
⦁ Anti-inflammatory medication
⦁ Heat or ice
⦁ Rest from sport