Hamstring injuries occur when one or all of the three hamstring tendons or muscles (located at the thigh's back) are either completely or partially torn. It's one of the most frequent lower-body injuries, specifically affecting athletes who pursue high-sprinting sports like soccer, football, or the racetrack. An individual is two to six times more likely to sustain another injury after ripping a hamstring tendon or muscle. Physical therapy is usually effective in treating hamstring strain problems.

Physiotherapists are movement specialists. They improve people's quality of life by providing patient education, hands-on care, and prescribed mobility. You can get in touch with us at Suarez Physical Therapy to schedule an appointment if you are in Las Vegas. Our experts can offer pain relief and workout recommendations that will help you regain your normal strength, range of motion (ROM), and overall functional movement.

What is a Hamstring Injury?

A hamstring consists of three muscles that run along the thigh's back and connect the pelvis to the legs. They are three main muscles responsible for bending/flexing the knees and straightening/extending the hips. The three muscles are:

  • Semimembranosus

  • The biceps femoris

  • Semitendinosus

Muscular anatomy includes the muscle "belly," which relaxes or contracts to move the limbs, and the tendons, which join the bone and the muscle belly. A hamstring injury occurs when the muscle belly is torn or damaged as a result of an excessive amount of force being exerted while the muscles are being stretched. This is common during sudden changes of direction, sudden starts, high-speed running, or when the muscles are overstretched by actions like hurdling, heavy lifting, kicking, or sprinting.

The following are some possible causes of hamstring injuries:

  • Growing older

  • Hamstring weakness

  • Having tight or poor flexibility of the hip flexors and quadriceps

  • History of hamstring injuries

  • Muscle fatigue

  • Inadequate warm-up before exercise

Causes of Hamstring Injuries

Symptoms of hamstring injuries can appear rapidly, usually as a result of quick motions such as cutting maneuvers or running while engaging in sports. Sometimes all it takes to injure your hamstring is to make a wrong move while standing up from a seat, walking, or sprinting. A muscular strain can be caused by several circumstances, including:

  1. Muscle Tightness

Strain can easily damage tight muscles. Athletes should engage in daily stretching workouts all year to avoid this.

  1. Muscle Imbalance

A hamstring strain can result from an imbalance where a single muscle group is significantly stronger than the opposite muscle group. This is common with hamstring muscles. The quadriceps muscles located at the thigh's front part are normally stronger. The hamstrings may tire faster than the quadriceps muscles during high-speed activity. This exhaustion could result in a hamstring injury.

  1. Poor Conditioning

Weak muscles are less likely to withstand the stresses of a workout and, as a result, are more prone to injury.

  1. Muscle Fatigue

Muscles are more vulnerable to injury as a result of fatigue, which decreases their capacity to absorb energy.

  1. Activity of Choice

Although hamstring injuries can happen to anyone, the following people are particularly vulnerable:

  • Athletes that engage in sports such as soccer, football, and basketball, to name a few

  • Sprinters or runners

  • Dancers

  • older athletes whose primary form of exercise is walking

  • Athletes in their adolescence who are still developing

Teenagers are more likely to get hamstring injuries than adults because of the different rates of muscle and bone growth. A child's bones could develop more quickly during a growth period than their muscles. The developing bone tightens the muscle. A sudden strain, impact, or jump could tear and separate the connection between the muscle and the bone.

So, what happens to the hamstring muscles when they're strained? The muscle-tendon interface, or hamstring muscles, gets torn. Your muscle's collagen fibers tear apart, which could result in hemorrhage in the hamstring tissues. The inflammatory process then kicks in and your body shifts into "healing mode." This process entails:

  • Bleeding into the wound to send in cells that will clean up the region and form healthy collagen

  • The remodeling of the collagen tissues to generate healthy and normal hamstring muscle tissues

  • Scar tissue bridges form, which will eventually transform into healthy tendon and muscle tissue

You can speed up the healing process by doing the appropriate exercises at the right time to get your injured hamstring working and moving properly.

Symptoms of Hamstring Injuries

When a hamstring injury occurs, an individual is likely to feel a sudden onset of discomfort at the back of his or her thigh. It occurs quickly and forces the person to stop what he or she was doing. Mild injury symptoms could last only a few days, whereas severe injury symptoms could linger for weeks. The following are some of the common symptoms:

  • Sudden, severe pain in the back part of the thigh or buttocks

  • Running or walking with difficulty, leading to a limp

  • Bruising that occurs within days or hours of the injury

  • A "snap" or tearing sensation is felt in the muscle

  • Having trouble sitting comfortably, straightening your knees, or elevating your legs while lying down

  • Touch sensitivity in the afflicted area

Diagnosis For Hamstring Injuries

A hamstring injury diagnosis begins with a comprehensive assessment of your medical history as well as the root cause of your injury. A physical therapist would seek clarification from the patient about the following:

  1. Which area is the patient experiencing pain in at the moment?

  2. What was the person doing, and did he or she feel a "pop" when they first experienced the pain?

  3. Did the patient notice any bruises as a result of the injury?

  4. Has the individual ever sustained an injury like this before?

  5. What was the patient unable to accomplish immediately after the incident, and how has he or she been coping since then, like walking, elevating his or her leg, and sleeping?

A Physical Therapy Evaluation

When you visit a physical therapist for treatment of a hamstring injury, he or she will perform a preliminary examination to gather information about your ailment and identify the best course of action. A physiotherapy assessment for a hamstring injury could involve the following measures and tests to evaluate the severity of the injury:

  • Observation—Helps the medical specialist spot any bruises or discoloration

  • Pain Evaluation—Helps your physiotherapist determine your current intensity of pain and the tasks or activities that either worsen or relieve your pain\

  • Palpation—This is a technique that can be used to evaluate the size and position of a sore area through physical touch, which can help assess the nature of an injury

  • A Range-of-Motion Test—This is performed to compare and evaluate the movement of the injured leg with that of the healthy leg. Your physical therapist would assess your hip and knee's range of motion (ROM). The range of flexibility and motion surrounding these joints is usually restricted by hamstring strains.

  • Muscle-Strength Test—This helps your physical therapist assess the strength of your hamstring muscles when you bend or straighten your knees and hips

  • Gait Analysis—This is used to detect limping or other changes in your walking style

  • History—Your physical therapist will go over your medical history, including your symptoms and how the hamstring injury occurred. He or she would decide if there are any valid grounds to forgo therapy or if any other health professional, like an orthopedist, needs to conduct a more thorough assessment of your condition

  • Balance—Owing to your hamstring injury, your physiotherapist may apply certain tests to assess your balance and proprioception

The evaluation results will be used by your physical therapist to develop a treatment plan for your hamstring injury rehab. Additionally, your physical therapist will assist you in establishing reasonable objectives for your hamstring treatment.

How Serious Is Your Hamstring Injury?

So, how can you and your physiotherapist or healthcare practitioner determine the severity of your hamstring injury? A three-tiered approach is used to grade hamstring strains as well as all other muscle injuries. The following are the three grades, based on the nature of your injury:

  • Grade I

The fibers of the muscles are simply stretched to the limit, and tiny tears in the tissues could be evident. A grade I muscular strain often shows no external signs at all. However, you are likely to experience limited mobility and pain in the affected area.

  • Grade II

At this stage, the hamstring muscles are partially torn, with moderate edema and bruising being evident.

  • Grade III

This stage features full-thickness muscle tearing with substantial discomfort and loss of movement, bruising, and swelling in the thigh's back.

To ascertain the entire extent of your hamstring injury, your physical therapist would assess your condition and offer specific orders for tests such as an MRI. The diagnosis of your hamstring injury could be made based solely on the signs and symptoms, in which case no diagnostic procedures are necessary.

The First Steps to Recovery

If you fear you suffer from a strained hamstring, you can take some preliminary actions to get back on track. These could include:

  • Remain calm. Hamstring injuries are often not dangerous, despite the agony they cause

  • Consult your physical therapist to ensure you receive an authentic diagnosis

  • Visit a physiotherapist to begin treating the discomfort and regaining normal mobility

  • Stay away from activities that could aggravate your hamstring's pain or interrupt the regular tissue healing process

By doing the recommended things in the right way, you can safely improve your mobility and resume your regular activities.

Physiotherapy Treatment for Hamstring Injuries

Your physical therapist will begin treatment after working with you to prepare a specialized plan of care for your hamstring injury. Physical therapy for hamstring injuries aims to restore your range of motion and normal flexibility, recover your normal strength, manage your pain and edema, and assist you in returning to normal function. Your physical therapist could make use of various treatments and methods to treat your hamstring injury. These could include the following:

  • Electrical Stimulation

During your hamstring treatment, electrical stimulation could be employed to achieve several objectives. Your physical therapist could use E-stim to help you manage your discomfort, reduce swelling, or enhance the way the hamstring muscles contract.

  • Ultrasound

This is a deep heating therapy that can assist in improving the extensibility and circulation around the damaged hamstring tissues. Your physical therapist would incorporate this into your treatment plan, even though research suggests that it could not provide the benefit formerly thought in musculoskeletal settings.

  • Massage

Massaging the wounded area can help enhance the mobility of the scar tissue.

  • Using Kinesiology Tapes

A kinesiology taping technique is used by some physical therapists to improve the overall hamstring muscle function. Additionally, you could use kinesiology taping to lessen bruising and swelling around the hamstring muscles. Since there's limited research on the usage of K-tape, it's recommended to discuss its use and significance with your physical therapist.

  • Using Ice

During the initial stages of an injury, ice can be applied to reduce discomfort and control swelling.

  • Gait training

If you have a serious hamstring injury, you will need to walk on crutches while it heals. Your physical therapist should show you the correct way to walk as well as how to transition from utilizing the assistive device to walking normally.

  • Heat

Your physical therapist could use wet heat packs to assist in loosening up the hamstring muscles and increasing tissue elasticity before stretching.

How a Physical Therapist Can Help

Exercises for therapeutic purposes are the most essential form of treatment a physical therapist can provide you. Your physical therapist would recommend certain exercises for you to undertake at the health center, and he or she would also advise you to regularly do exercises at home. This gives you more control over the recovery process for hamstring strains and leaves you in charge of your care. Among the exercises for hamstring injuries are:

  1. Exercises to Strengthen the Lower Extremities

Your physical therapist would recommend strengthening workouts for your hamstring and its surrounding muscles. Such exercises should begin slowly and without pain. You can advance to more strenuous strengthening activities as the injury heals.

  1. Hamstring Stretches

Dynamic and static hamstring stretching workouts can help to enhance the hamstring's ability to function well. Stretching exercises are one of the finest techniques to restructure scar tissues formed by injured muscles as they heal. You might feel a pulling sensation while stretching, but it should go back to normal within a few minutes.

  1. Agility Training Exercises

As your therapy continues, your physiotherapist will have you undertake more advanced agility tasks such as jumping and hopping. Learning to leap and land correctly could help to protect your hamstrings as well as other lower limb muscles and joints as you resume intense sports activity.

  1. Exercises That Strengthen Your Hips And Core

According to research, maintaining strong hips and core muscles will help you recover from a hamstring injury and resume your regular activities. During your hamstring rehabilitation, you may be recommended to undertake dynamic abdominal strengthening as well as advanced hip strengthening.

  1. Balance and proprioception exercises

As part of your therapy, you could work to maintain proper balance and awareness of your lower extremities. You can make sure the muscles and tendons are working effectively to hold your knees, ankles, and hips in the ideal positions while running, walking, and leaping. Your physical therapist should clarify the reasoning behind each workout you undertake and ensure you are doing it correctly. Consult with a professional physical therapist if you experience any discomfort or have concerns about your workouts.

  1. Manual Therapy

Physiotherapists are skilled in using manual (hands-on) treatment to enhance mobility, strength, and flexibility by gently moving and manipulating joints and muscles. Your physical therapist could gently move and massage the injured area to aid in recovery. These methods can be used to treat parts that are difficult to heal on their own.

  1. Range of Motion Training

Even though it's typical for a hamstring muscle to feel tight after an injury, it's crucial to avoid stretching it while the muscle is still recovering. Your physiotherapist will advise you when it's safe and suitable to start gentle flexibility workouts and will show you how to perform them in the health center as well as at home.

Qualities to Look for in a Physical Therapist

A professional physiotherapist has the training and experience necessary to handle hamstring strain issues. However, it's crucial to consider the following:

  • A physiotherapist with experience treating hamstring strain problems. Some physical therapists specialize in either sports rehabilitation or orthopedic therapy

  • A board-certified clinical expert or a physiotherapist who has finished a fellowship or residency in sports physical therapy or orthopedics. This type of physical therapist possesses extensive knowledge, skills, and expertise that could apply to your problem

When searching for a good physical therapist, keep the following in mind:

  • Seek advice from family members, friends, or any other healthcare provider

  • Prepare yourself to give a thorough description of your symptoms and to list any activities that aggravate them

  • When scheduling an appointment with a physiotherapy clinic, inquire about the physiotheraperapist's experience in treating hamstring injuries

Find A Las Vegas Physical Therapist Near Me

If you or a loved one sustains a hamstring injury, you should seek immediate medical attention. Prompt and adequate therapy guarantees that you will fully recover. We at Suarez Physical Therapy strive to give the best physiotherapy services to clients in Las Vegas, NV. Our team is dedicated to engaging with you, attending to all of your worries, and attaining the best therapeutic goals. Give us a call today at 702-368-6778 to set up an appointment for more information.