A pulled hamstring is a common cause of pain in the back of the thigh.
A hamstring injury is often caused by a hamstring strain or tear. Fortunately, this is easy to treat with 3 exercises. These exercises also work well against a stiff hamstring or a shortened hamstring.
The exercises consist of stretching and training the hamstring so that it heals quickly.
So read on quickly:
What causes a pulled hamstring?
Your hamstring is a muscle group at the back of your thigh. The muscles run from the bottom of your pelvis to the top of your lower leg. The hamstring consists of the following 3 muscles:
- Biceps Femoris
The function of the hamstring is to extend the hip and bend the knee. A pulled hamstring or hamstring strain most often occurs when these 2 movements are combined. It happens especially when running and sprinting.
When you put maximum force on your hamstring during a sprint or when you are running for a long time, and your muscles get tired, overload of the muscle can occur. The overload can lead to muscle damage.
A pulled hamstring is an irritation of the muscle in which the muscle fibers are stretched but not torn. If the muscle fibers are torn, you have a torn hamstring. You can quickly tell apart a hamstring strain and a torn hamstring through the symptoms.
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Symptoms of a hamstring injury
The severity of the hamstring injury can be deduced from the symptoms you experience.
The first symptom is hamstring pain. This pain is usually located in the middle of the hamstring mid-thigh. However, the pain can also be felt in the attachment of the hamstring at the bottom of the buttock. How painful your injury is, depends on the severity of the injury. A pulled hamstring is less painful than a hamstring tear.
In addition to pain, hamstring swelling is a clear symptom of a hamstring problem. The swelling is caused by fluid entering the hamstring as a result of the damage. This will increase the volume and make it swell. In addition, the muscle becomes stiff, making it a bit bulky and hard.
Finally, discoloration may occur. This is because muscle fibers are torn, releasing blood. This bruises the hamstring and is a clear symptom of a hamstring tear. No blood is released during a pulled hamstring. By means of this discoloration you can distinguish a strain from a torn hamstring. If the tear is deep inside, it can take a few days before the bruising becomes visible. During the recovery you will see that the discoloration slowly sinks down, but becomes larger. This is because more blood floats to the surface and then sinks down due to gravity.
The treatment of a pulled hamstring is no different from that of a torn hamstring. The only thing that is different is the recovery time. This is 4-6 weeks for a hamstring strain and 6-12 weeks for a torn hamstring.
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Pulled hamstring treatment with 3 exercises
You can treat a hamstring injury in several ways. The most important thing is to take the tension off the hamstring by stretching it. Because the hamstring becomes more flexible, the muscle fibers can heal better. Stretching the hamstring also helps with a stiff or shortened hamstring without causing pain.
In addition to stretching, you can use a foam roller to massage the muscle, as it were. Due to the pressure of the foam roller, the tension also decreases, and the body can better repair the damage.
Finally, it is essential to train the hamstring. The muscle fibers are reconstituted in the right way and arranged in the muscle by loading it again. It allows the muscle to recover faster and better.
In any case, it is essential to keep moving as much as possible after a hamstring injury without overloading it. As long as the hamstring does not hurt for more than an hour, the load has been good. When the hamstring reacts longer, you have overloaded it, which hinders the recovery process. You don’t want this.
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Pulled hamstring exercise 1: Stretching the hamstring
The first hamstring exercise focuses on stretching the hamstring. When the hamstring becomes more flexible, the blood flow to the muscle improves. This allows it to heal faster.
In addition, stretching helps to straighten the muscle fibers. A muscle has to be loaded to put the muscle fibers neatly next to each other again. If you do not do this, the muscle will recover less well and not become as strong as before.
The exercise goes like this:
- Stand with your leg on a platform, such as a chair
- Keep your painful leg slightly bent and the leg you are standing on straight
- Bend your upper body forward and try to touch the toes of your sore leg
- Hold this for 20 seconds
- Repeat this 3 times
You can find the execution of the exercise in this photo.
You should feel the stretch in your hamstring, often in the painful area. As you perform the exercise more often, you will notice that your hamstring becomes more flexible. This exercise also helps against a shortened or stiff hamstring.
Pulled hamstring exercise 2: Training the hamstring
The second hamstring exercise focuses on training the hamstring. To let the muscle heal properly, it is essential to regain its strength. Training stimulates the production of muscle fibers, even during an injury.
By slowly rebuilding the strength of the hamstring, the muscle becomes stronger, and the pain disappears. We train the hamstring through the lunge.
The exercise goes like this:
- Stand with 1 leg forward and 1 back in a straight line
- Bring your body towards the ground, bending your front knee to 90 degrees but not moving forward
- Bend your back knee too and almost touch the floor with your knee
- Repeat this 10 times
- Do this 3 times per side
You can see the execution of the exercise in the following photo.
If your front knee does move forward, place your feet further apart.
In the beginning, you will feel that your hamstring is being heavily loaded. When the exercise becomes easier, you can increase the number of repetitions to 15 or 20 times.
Repeat the exercise 2 times a day.
Pulled hamstring exercise 3: Training the stability of the lower back
The third exercise focuses on training the stability of the lower back.
A stable lower back is important for your hamstring because it ensures that your hamstring is less stressed. By training your back, you reduce the strain on your hamstring and decrease the risk of recurrence.
With this exercise, you also train your hamstring in addition to your lower back.
The exercise goes like this:
- Lie on your back with your legs bent
- Cross your arms over your chest
- Lift your buttocks and extend one leg
- Hold this for 10 seconds
- Repeat this 3 times with both legs
You can also see the execution of the exercise in this video.
It may be that in the beginning, you mainly feel pain in your hamstring and less in your back. As you repeat the exercise more often, you will feel that your back muscles tighten and your hamstring is less stressed. This means that your back muscles are slowly getting stronger. You can now increase the exercise to 15 seconds or even 20 seconds.
With these 3 exercises, your hamstring injury should be resolved within 6 weeks. If you have any questions, you can always send me an e-mail.