If you have ever participated in a sport or athletic activity, you have probably uttered those words "I just pulled my hammy." The pain can be as mild as feeling like someone is grabbing the muscle. Some people describe it as violent as being shot. (How do you know what that feels like? Honestly, let's stop being dramatic.)
Regardless of your pain tolerance, it doesn't feel good and it is going to impare you to some degree. So, what is a "pulled hammy" and what do you do for it?
As a physical therapist, I have to say this is one of the easiest injuries to treat, if you do the right things. Unfortunatly most people don't and it only prolongs the injury. That is why I'm here to help.
The most common thing that people do wrong is stretch the muscle following the initial injury. I dont know where this misconception came from, but everyone that I see in the clinic tells me this is what they did to try to help. It only makes the problem worse, though. The reason being because a muscle "pull" is really a small muscle "tear." A muscle is striated and when you tear it you pull those fibers apart. When you stretch the muscle following the injury you are only pulling the fibers further apart therefore, worsening the injury. It's like ripping a piece of fabric and then trying to mend it by pulling the edges even more.
The last thing you want to do to starting out is stretch. I tell my patients to avoid streching that muscle for at least two weeks. You can stretch other muscle groups but stay away from the hamstring. After two weeks, we will re-introduce stretching but only if it doesn't hurt. The best thing to do is light exercise (i.e. no resistance) for the muscle with a TON of repetitions. One of the best things you can do is a bridge (see image 1). That will get the hamstring going and it works it in a shortened range so you keep slack in the muscle. From there we progress to eccentric training and then eventually resisted training for the muscle.
A hamstring strain should not take that long to heal from if done right. Hopefully this isn't something that you need to worry about. If for some reason you do pull your hamstring, now you know what to do. "And knowing is half the battle, GI Joe!" (Yeah, I was a kid in the 80s.) If you have any further questions please feel free to contact us. Thank you for reading.
"Live Pain Free"