Hamstring Strains - An Introduction

22 September 2015

Athletes of all kinds will probably have experienced the feeling at one point - a sudden pop in the back of their leg followed by sharp pain. Hamstring injuries are widespread in the sporting world but with the right products and the right preparation, their risk can be minimised.

What is a Hamstring Strain?

A hamstring strain is a strain or even a slight tear to the group of large muscles that run down the back of your thigh, called the hamstrings. There are different grades of severity to this injury, with a completely torn muscle classified as a grade 3 and a slight pull or strain a grade 1. While a complete tear is very severe and can take months to recover from, the more common injury is a simple strain that is still painful and can take days or weeks to be cured.

How Does This happen?

Your hamstrings allow your leg to bend at the knee. Injuries can occur when the muscle is stretched beyond its limit. Hamstring strains occur most often during sudden, explosive movements such as sprinting, lunging and jumping, so naturally those playing some kind of sport will be particularly at risk. 

You are more susceptible to a Hamstring strain if you don't warm up before exercise, if the muscles in the front of the thigh (the quadriceps) are tight, or if your glutes are weak - since the hamstrings and glutes work together weak glutes will make the hamstrings have to work harder. 

Treatment Options for Hamstring Strains

Treatment for a hamstring strain depends on the severity. If it is just a mild strain you should be back in action in a matter of days, but no matter how badly it is injured you should apply the concept of 'RICE' (rest, ice, compression, elevation). This means avoiding physical activity initially and keeping the leg as still as possible, icing the muscle to reduce pain and inflammation, using a compression bandage to help minimise swelling and keeping the leg raised, also helping to reduce swelling.

Following the injury you should start stretching the muscle to ensure that it doesn't shrink too much due to inactivity. When you are comfortable stretching and feel up to it, you should progress to some gentle exercise.

Long-term, to help prevent further injury it is a good idea to do some strengthening exercises with resistance. Many people have comparatively weak hamstrings because, unlike the quadriceps, they are not used much when walking or in general daily life. 

Which Products Can Help with Hamstring Strains?

If you're going to engage in physical activity it's imperative that you're properly warmed up. Foam rolling with products such as the Escape Fitness Foam Roller and Mini Foam Roller is a great way to make sure your muscles are nice and loose, and less likely to tear.

To minimise post-workout swelling and pain, or lessen the swelling caused by a hamstring strain, the Aircast Cryo Thigh Cuff is a great option too, allowing torn muscle to regrow stronger, and it's much more convenient than holding a bag of peas to your leg!