Hamstring strain is also known as the pulled hamstring. Aches and pains on the back of the legs may be a sign of a hamstring injury.
Pulled hamstring injuries are common in athletes participating in many sports. Field and track athletes are particularly at risk, as hamstring strain has been estimated to make up to 29% of all injuries in the sprinters.
Keep reading this blog to know about the cause, symptoms, and treatment of pulled hamstring.
What Are The Hamstrings?
Hamstrings are the collection of the three muscles that can locate in the back of the thigh to bone. The hamstring muscle is the large muscle that pulls on these tendons.
It has become more common in layman’s terminology to refer to the long muscles at the back of the thigh as the hamstring or hamstring muscles.
Academic anatomists will refer to them as the posterior thigh muscles and more specifically the biceps femoris, the semitendinosus, and the semimembranosus.
These muscles span of the thigh are crossing both the hip and the knee. They can also originate or begin at just below the buttocks and arise from the bone on which we will sit.
They also connect by the means of their tendon onto the upper parts of the lower leg bones. The origin of the word hamstring comes from the old English Hamm, which means thigh.
String refers to the characteristic appearances and feel of the tendons that will just above the back of the knee. Although, the tendons are sometimes involved in injuries.
The hamstring muscle can help to actively bend the knee. They also act and straighten or the hip as in the motion of moving the thigh backward. Surprisingly, these large muscles are not very with normal standing or walking.
However, hamstring muscles are extremely important for power activities such as climbing, jumping, and running.
Thus, the sedentary individuals can get by the quite week or the deconditioned hamstrings, whereas the athletes and the very physically active individuals absolutely depend on the health and also the good condition hamstrings.
The power advantage of strong hamstrings is known for a long time. In the time past, a sword-wielding knight would disable an opponent by the slice across the back of the thigh.
Anatomy Of Hamstring
The hamstring muscles are run down the back of the thigh. There are three ten three hamstring muscles such as
- Biceps femoris
These muscles start at the bottom of the pelvis at a place called the ischial tuberosity. The hamstring crosses the knee joint and ends at the lower leg.
The hamstring muscle fibers join with the tough, connective tissue of the hamstring tendons near the points where the tendons attach to bones in the body.
Hamstring muscles will help you to extend your legs straight back and bend the knee.
Also, the cruel masters were known to be more severe than the hamstrings of the domestic slaves or the prisoners in order to make the escape less likely.
The origin of the term hamstrung is meaning to have been the crippled or to held back is driven from these practices.
(Also read: Hyperdontia – Type, Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment)
What Is Hamstring Strain?
Hamstring injuries such as the tears and strain are common in the sports that require either a lot of running or the powerful acceleration and decelerations.
The hamstrings strain refers to an injury in which the muscle or tendon is torn or stretched. Muscle strains and tears are most commonly occur which is known as an eccentric contraction.
When a contraction if the muscle will occur then the muscle is trying to contrate while the another force. The forcing of the muscle in the opposite direction.
This will create a tremendous strain on the muscle. If this force is strong enough then it will tear the muscle fibers. Hamstring muscle injury is also most common because the muscle spans occur in more than one joint.
The origin of the hamstrings is on the lower part of the pelvis, and the insertion of this muscle is on the upper part of the shin bone.
The movements of both of these joints can increase the forces of acting on the hamstring muscles. Other muscles that will cross more than one joint are also more prone to strain injuries.
The less severe strain is known as the pulled hamstring. A hamstring tear is also known as a rupture and infers a more serious injury. While some hamstring is mild and also improves with the rest and also the over the counter pain relievers.
Other more severe injuries may require surgery and extensive rehabilitation. Usually the pulled hamstring is graded similarly to the other types of muscle strain.
According to the severity of the stain, the hamstring is categorized into three grades. Here are the grades of a hamstring strain.
1. Grade 1:
Grade 1 is a mild hamstring strain which is also called a pulled hamstring. It will happen when the hamstring muscles that overstretch but it will don’t tear.
But if the hamstring that stretches to the point where it will rip, this injury is also considered a tear. Usually minimal limitations inactivity.
2. Grade 2:
A grade 2 hamstring injury is a partial muscle tear. This means the muscle hasn’t fully ripped. As compared to the grade 1 hamstring pull, the grade 2 tear hamstring is more painful.
Grade 2 will limit an athlete’s ability to perform activities such as jumping and running. It may have moderate bruising and swelling.
3. Grade 3:
It is the most severe hamstring injury. It will occur when the hamstring muscle rips completely or tears off the bone. A tear that will pull the muscle off the bone is known as an avulsion.
If you have a grade 3 tear, then you likely heard a popping sound or sensation when you got the injury. The back of the thigh will also be extremely swollen and painful.
Because grade 3 tears are so severe and you may not be able to put weight on the injured leg. It will cause a severe injury that can cause pain with walking.
If the muscle fibers significantly or completely are torn, then it will potentially require surgical intervention. Often patients complain of muscle spasm, significant bruising, and swelling.
What Are The Pulled Hamstring Symptoms?
Hamstring injuries usually occur with sudden jumping, running, or lunging will result in muscle injury. The sudden jerking pulls on the tissues of the hamstring muscle, to the hamstring muscle.
In fact, the tear of the muscle is commonly referred to as a pulled hamstring. An acute hamstring injury will typically cause sudden, sharp pain in the thigh that can stop you mid-stride.
In some cases, you may also hear an audible pop or feel your leg giving out from under you. A chronic hamstring injury can occur and it will an untreated tear or strain worsens over time.
After the injury it will occur, you will often be unable to extend the knee for more than 30 to 40 degrees without the pain. Acute injury almost always accompanies by spasm, tenderness, tightness, either developing immediately or after several hours.
In the case of a rupture, you can often feel or you can see an indentation where the tear will occur. Severe bruising and swelling will typically occur in the pulled hamstring.
The symptoms of hamstring strain depend upon the severity and cause of the hamstring injury. The strain will also be described by how much the damage will occur on the muscle and the tendon fibers.
The symptoms of pulled hamstring according to the grade.
- Grade 1 hamstring strain may be felt as a slight pull or the ache in the back of the thigh. The exact grade 1 hamstring injury may not be recognized, and also the onset of the pain may be gradual. There may be also a minimal swelling and nonspecific pain in the muscle of the leg when the knee is extended. In some cases, the limp may not be present, but the pain will usually get worse with aggressive activities like running and walking up or downstairs.
- Grade 2 pulled hamstring will often occur with an acute event. The symptoms of the grade 2 hamstring is an immediate sharp pain will be felt in the back of the thigh or the higher up toward the buttock. It may cause difficulty in walking because extending the knee stretches injures the muscle of the keg and also a limp is often present in this grade. Swelling and the tenderness will occur in the area of the injury.
- The pulled hamstring symptoms of a grade 3 area progression of a grade 2 strain with the symptoms of swelling and pain more pronounced. Many times in athletic injuries the muscles can be so aggressively stretched that they will tear with pop so loud. SO the tear of the muscle can be heard by the other players on the field. If there is any significant tear, a divot can sometimes be felt in the belly of the muscle at the site of the injury.
Common Pulled Hamstring Symptoms
The pain in the back muscle of the leg is almost always present with a pulled hamstring. The pain is sudden and usually causes when you stop the activity.
Well, the symptom will depend on the severity of the hamstring injury. Seme other common symptoms will include:
The small tears in the muscle will cause bleeding and subsequent bruising. The bruise will begin in the back of the thigh muscle.
As the time will pass then the bruise will pass down below the knee and also often in the foot of the injured leg.
The accumulation of the blood from the hamstring injury will cause swelling on the thigh.
The swelling in the thigh can make further muscle contraction difficult and it is very painful.
Wearing a compressive bandage will help to control the swelling of the pulled hamstring.
3. Difficulty With The Muscle Contraction
Bending the knee is often very painful after a pulled hamstring. This will prevent the patient from walking normally.
If anybody is unable to contract the hamstring, then the muscle of the leg is completely rupturing.
4. Muscle Spasm
Muscle spasm is one of the common and painful symptoms of a hamstring strain.
Because of the trauma to the muscle, the signal of the contraction can confuse the muscles that may be stimulated.
The severe muscle relaxant will help with the spasms
5. Sharp Pain
When the hamstring injury will occur then, the person may feel an abrupt, sharp pain at the back of the thigh or the buttocks.
6. Pain And Discomfort While Sitting
In avulsion type and the proximal hamstring strain can tendon the breaks from the pelvic bone. So the patient will commonly face the pain and discomfort while sitting.
Pulled Hamstring Symptoms That May Indicate The Serious Condition
In some cases, the hamstring injury can be serious. If you have any of the symptoms that are given below then immediately seek medical care.
The serious condition symptoms include:
- Feeling sensation of tearing or popping during the hamstring injury
- Severe, debilitating pain
- Complete loss of the muscle function
- Severe swelling
What Causes A Hamstring Strain?
A pulled hamstring generally occurs when the muscle overload. These muscles include the biceps femoris, semimembranosus, semitendinosus.
Usually, muscle overload occurs when a muscle either stretches beyond the limits, or it will challenge with a sudden, excessive weight load.
For example, when you are running and suddenly your leg is fully stretched out just before your foot strikes the ground. When the foot strikes the ground and all the weight is on it, the muscles will get stretched too far and they may start to tear.
Most of the strains occur when the hamstring muscles contract and lengthen at the same time which is known as an eccentric contraction. One of the best examples of this pain is sprinting
That occurs during the back leg is straightened while properly bent on the toes.
The other injuries occur when the hamstring overexerts while lifting the weight with a sudden thrust of energy such as powerlifting.
Hamstring injury is commonly seen in the people who participate in the following activities.
- Running and sprinting and also some other track events
The older athletes who walk in their primary form of the exercise are also at a higher risk of the hamstring strain. So, adolescents whose bodies are still growing.
Then the muscles and bones do not necessarily grow at the same rate. This means that any of the force or the stress to the muscles such as a jump or impact may leave that vulnerable to tearing.
Hamstring strains usually occur in two different ways. They are either is sprinting related or the stretch related for example in the martial arts, dancing, or gymnastics.
Sprint Related Hamstring Strain
During sprinting, the hamstring muscles will work extremely hard. In particular, at a point just before the foot strike of the ground that may decelerate the tibia very quickly.
It is at this anointing that the hamstring is most likely to the tear. The sprint that relates to the hamstring injuries usually occurs lower down the biceps femoris muscles.
More specifically, where the muscle joints are tendons. They often feel worse initially but it will recover more quickly.
Stretch Related Hamstring strains
The stretch is related that injuries usually occur higher up at the back of the thigh. The most commonly the tendon of the semimembranosus muscle.
This injury will take longer to heal because the blood supply to the tendon is not as good.
The referred pain causes by the problems elsewhere such as the lower back and the hip but is felt at the back of the leg.
These may increase the likelihood of the suffering a hamstring strain and it should always consider, particularly if you suffer from the recurrence of the hamstring strains.
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What Are The Risk Factors Of Pulled Hamstring?
Certain athletes also have a higher risk of straining a hamstring. This includes sprinters, runners, dancers, those participating in sports that will require bursts of speed, such as basketball.
Some older people who only walk for the exercise tend to have a higher risk, as do teens who are still growing. In the teens, the thigh bone or femur can grow the hamstring muscles.
The longer thigh will make the muscles tight and more prone to strains. A number of the factors increase the risk of developing a pulled off the hamstring including:
1. Muscle Fatigue
If the muscles are weak or fatiguing it can alter a person’s biomechanics and it may also increase the risk of injury.
2. Muscle Imbalance
When the one muscle group is much stronger than its opposing groups of muscle, this imbalance can lead to a strain.
This will frequently happen with the hamstring muscles. The quadriceps muscles of the thigh usually more powerful than others.
During the high-speed activities, the hamstring may become more fatigued faster than the quadriceps. This muscle imbalance or fatigue can lead to a pulled hamstring.
3. Exercising With The Tight Muscles
Tight muscles are vulnerable for the pulled hamstring. Athletes who have tight muscles may be more likely to experience hamstring injury.
That’s why athletes should follow the program of daily stretching exercises.
4. Poor Condition
If your muscles are weak, then they are less able to cope with the stress of exercise, that’s why it can lead to being a stain.
5. Previous Hamstring Injuries
The person who had already one hamstring injury, they are more likely to have another one pulled hamstring.
Especially if he is trying to resume all the activities at pre- injure levels of the intensity before the muscles have time to heal and rebuild the strength.
6. Poor Flexibility
If anyone has poor flexibility, then their muscle is not able to bear the full force of the action that will be required during a certain type of activity.
When anyone dehydrates, then their muscles are more prone to carping and therefore the muscles are more prone to injury.
8. Inadequate Warm-up
As I mentioned above tight muscles cause muscle strain. That’s what warming muscles properly will make the muscle flexible and it possibly less likely to injure.
9. Existing Lower Limb Injury
If anyone is compensating with another lower-limb injury, it can increase the chances of another injury somewhere else in the same or the opposite limb.
10. Overdoing It
Weak muscles are less able to handle the stress of exercise and also the muscles that get tired lose some of their ability to absorb the energy, this will make them more likely to get injured.
11. Returning To Activities Too Quickly After An Injury
Hamstring strains will need plenty of time and rest to heal completely.
So trying back from a strain too soon will lead more likely to injure the hamstring again.
12. Sports Participation
Sports that will require sprinting or running or doing other activities such as dancing that may require an extreme stressing may cause more likely hamstring injury.
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How To Reduce The Risk Of Pulled Hamstring
You may be able to lower the risk of pulling, tearing, or straining of hamstring by following these tips:
- Avoiding strenuous activities when the muscle is already weak or fatigue.
- Doing cross-training with a variety of activities
- Maintaining good physical conditioning such as strength, flexibility, and healthy body weight.
- Strengthening the hamstring muscles to promote the muscle balance with the quads.
- Gently warm up the body before doing any physical activity
If you are at the risk of pulling a hamstring, then talk with your doctors about the ways to protect yourself.
It will also consider with an athletic trainer to achieve proper muscle flexibility and balance.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From A Hamstring Injury?
The length of the tie it takes to recover from a hamstring injury will depend on how severe the injury is.
A minor pulled muscle or strain may take a few days to heal, whereas it could take weeks or the months to recover from a muscle tear. But keep in mind that people heal from the injury at different rates.
When you get better, then you should work on the hamstring with a new activity that won’t aggravate the strain. For instance, runners will try to do laps in a pool.
Whatever you are doing but don’t rush the things. Also don’t try to return on your old level of physical activity until:
- wait until you can easily move your injured leg as freely as the other leg
- Until you feel as strong as the uninjured leg
- When you feel no pain in the leg while walking, then jog the spring, and finally jump.
If you start pushing yourself before the hamstring strain heals then it will reinjure the hamstring and also develop the permanent muscle dysfunction.
How To Diagnose Pulled Hamstring
Pulled hamstring will diagnose by the history and physical examination of the patient. The circumstances of the injury will give you the clue as to the type of injury.
While the other physical examinations are using ti grade the amount of the damage to the muscle to the tendon.
The healthcare professional may ask some questions about the circumstance of the injury to analyze the mechanism of the injury and also review what the home treatments you attempted.
The past medical history is also important for the diagnosis. Because the previous injury or the arthritis of the back, knee, or hip can decrease the range of motion and flexibility of the muscles, that will cause the hamstring to become more prone to injury.
The physical examination often consists of touching the muscle to assess the tenderness and swelling. The grade 2 or 3 tear may have a defect or division that can be felt along the course of the muscle, confirming the diagnosis.
A range of motion of the back, knee, and hip also tested with and without resistance. So trying to unmask pain that will not necessarily be appreciated by the palpation.
Often the doctor will lay the patient flat on their stomach and also bend the knee to go degrees. This will relax the hamstring muscles and also may minimize the spasm muscle.
The hamstring muscles can then be felt and a potential defect will be appreciated. Here are some ways to determine if you have harms sting which includes:
1. Physical Exam For Pulled Hamstring
The doctor will check the thigh swelling, bruising, and tenderness because this will help you to decide that injury will sever or mil.
Other potential sources of pain will consider and the physical examination will also help to differentiate a pulled hamstring from the bone or the joint pain.
The pain will originate in the nerves as they will leave the spinal canal in the low back and it also mimics the hamstring injury. In most cases, patients do not need further testing.
There is also concern that the pain is due to an avulsion fracture or the other injuries in the pelvis, knee, or the femur.
Occasionally, the sciatic nerves that run down the back of the thigh may become irritated or entrapped in healing scar tissue. It will cause sciatic as the symptoms go down the leg.
In this case, the physician will conduct a thorough neurologic and musculoskeletal examination.
This is why it is important to have a physician or qualified clinician perform a complete neurologic and musculoskeletal examination in the setting of a hamstring strain.
2. MRI For Pulled Hamstring
If your healthcare provider thinks that you have a severe injury, then he will ask you for the MRI. This imaging test will show the tear in the muscle tissues.
3. X-ray For Pulled Hamstring
If your bone will fracture during the injury then your doctor will recommend you for the X-ray.
(Also read: Pincer Grasp – What Is Pincer Grasp Definition)
4. Ultrasound For Pulled Hamstring
Ultrasound is another test that can produce a detailed image of the muscles. Because it can help to show the size and location of the hamstring tear.
What Is The Complication Of A Pulled Hamstring?
Most of the pulled hamstring will heal successfully without causing any complication. However, this will relies on dedication toward the treatment and also the recovery plans.
Without adequate pulled hamstring recovery and re-injury of the muscle can occur. Doing too much activity too soon after the pulled hamstring can also lead to permanent damage and chronic problems.
That’s what seeking early medical care and also carefully following the doctor’s treatment plan is one of the best ways to prevent these complications.
Only the return to the sport and other physical activities when your healthcare provider says you’re ready for this.
Preventions Of Hamstring Pull
Not all hamstring pull can prevent. A pulled hamstring will often occur due to the muscles and poor flexibility.
That’s why, you may be at a higher risk like an older adult or an adolescent, and you may experience a sudden impact that will cause the injury.
Doing regular stretching can promote the flexibility that should be a daily consideration to minimize muscle injury.
Whether it will be a home fitness program, yoga classes, or pilates at the gym it helps you increase your balance, flexibility, and tone up the muscle.
Doing these activities can help to prevent any strained hamstring but also many other joint, bone, and muscle injuries. Doing eccentric muscle strengthening exercises may help in decreasing.
The risk of a hamstring pull. Because exercise will allow the muscle to strengthen as it will stretch which includes, running slowly downhill, walking down the steps, and also the downward motion of squatting.
Muscles that stretch and warm are less inclined to tear. Before doing any exercise or manual labor, which can include shoveling snow, gardening, and also doing other household chores it is important that, the muscle of the leg and back will be flexible and stretched.
Because flexibility in the muscle will help to prevent the pulled hamstring. The best way to keep the muscle in shape is to prevent pulled hamstring.
Here are some ways that can help you to protect to protect yourself against the pulled hamstring.
1. Warm-up Your Body Before Doing Any Physical Activities:
Gently warm up your body before playing any sports or working out. Jog in one place for a minute or two or do jumping jacks to warm up your muscles.
Then also do some of the dynamic stretchings or ask your coach or athletic trainer to show how you warm up.
After playing also do some static stretches where you can gently stretch your muscles, by building each stretch at least for 30 seconds.
2. Keep Your Muscles Strong And Flexible
Do regular exercise and also adopt a good stretching program so your muscles don’t get a shock when you will do an intense workout.
So stretch after and before the workout. It is also important to remember that, with the strength training, the muscles will tend to retract.
So, if you avoid the stretching then these muscles can eventually become fixed in the semi-fixed position.
3. Increase The Duration And Also Intensity Of Exercise
One of the good rules of thumb is to make sure and also add no more than 10% each week.
So just follow the 10% rule in which you can increase the distance, intensity, or the duration of the workout. By no more than 10% week on week to avoid overexertion also.
4. Stop Doing Activity Immediately If You Feel Pain In Thigh
If you worried that you might have a strained hamstring, then give yourself time to rest.
And don’t also go back to your activity until your leg will feel strong. There is also no pain in your leg and you can also move your injured leg as freely as the other leg.
You will also approach doing squats and other exercises that will engage the glutes and also the hip flexor muscles with the cautions, starting it slowly and also gradually increasing in depth.
Because doing exercise regularly can maintain cardiovascular and muscular fitness. So it will help you to prevent the injuries that will relate to the fatigue.
Pulled Hamstring Treatment
The treatment of a strained hamstring will depend on the severity of the injury. Because of the swelling and bleeding the athletes should stop their activities and also rest it immediately.
Applying an ice pack and the compressive bandage on the affected area can help to control the swelling. Crutches may be necessary if walking is more painful or if the spasm will be severe.
If the pain is significant, if the symptoms of the hamstring do not steadily resolve then medical evaluation should be obtained.
One of the good news is that with proper treatment, these injuries can be easily prevented, and the athletes generally return to the lead pre-injury levels of sports activities.
Most of the pulled hamstring can be easily managed effectively with simple treatments. Here is the RICE method of pulled hamstring treatment. RICE method stands for:
Avoid doing all the activities that will aggravate the injury. This means keep your leg as still as you will possibly can.
You might also need to use crutches or a knee splint to avoid the moving of your leg.
Ice On Pulled Hamstring
To ease the swelling and pain from the pulled hamstring Use an ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day in the affected area.
You may also even use something like the frozen peas that will wrap in a light towel. But don’t apply ice directly on the skin.
Compression For Pulled Hamstring
Compression or bandage the thigh to limit any swelling and also a movement that will cause further damage.
You can also use a simple elastic bandage or an elasticated tubular bandage that will be available in the pharmacy.
Elevation For Pulled Hamstring
Keep the leg raised up on a pillow as much as possible, it will help you reduce any swelling.
OTC pain medications can help to ease your discomfort with a hamstring injury.
Oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like the ibuprofen or some other OTC pain medication like acetaminophen are good for short term relief.
Topical NSAID creams and gels are also helpful to ease pain. But if you feel you injure yourself severely through, it is a good idea to see your doctor before self-medicating.
Another best option to give the pain that will involve using a foam roller to apply known as myofascial release to the hamstring.
Place the roller just above the back of the knee and roll upward in the direction of the blood flow to massage the muscles gently. The professional sports massage may also help you to get rid of the pain.
Physiotherapy Treatment For Strained Hamstring
Physiotherapy is one of the very important pulled hamstring treatments. Initially, your physiotherapist can advise you on the exact tissue damage and the extent of the damage.
Follow all the assessments that your physiotherapist can provide you. He will also advise you how long your injury takes to heal and also the appropriate treatment that can be developed.
The treatment plan of pulled hamstring will involve several treatment techniques such as electrotherapy and manipulations to reduce the swelling and pain and it will also enhance the healing of the injured structures.
Pulled Hamstring Surgery
If the above treatment doesn’t heal a partial tear, or if you have a complete tear, then your doctor will recommend surgery to repair the hamstring.
So the hamstring surgeon will fix the tear with stitches. Most of the hamstring surgery is done to treat avulsions.
During the hamstring, surgery surgeon will move the into its correct position and also staple or stitch it to the bone.
Pulled Hamstring Rehab Exercises
Both strengthening and stretching exercises are important for hamstring rehab.
After the initial acute stage, very gentle for the static stretching exercise that will begin as long as they are pain-free.
As the injury heals, dynamic stretching that will involve movement will introduce and eventually sports-specific drills. Perform some gentle exercises such as cycling and walking.
Short Note On Pulled Hamstring
Most of the hamstring tears are caused by athletic injuries. Typically partial tears hamstring will heal in 4 to 8 weeks, while complete tears hamstring will take about 3 months.
You should start to feel better by doing some regular physical therapy and also lots of rest. For avoiding the re-injury follow the doctor’s guidance.