A pulled hamstring is one of the most common sports injuries. It is a painful injury that affects all kinds of athletes, from gymnasts to professional football players. Luckily there is help. Minor to moderate hamstring pulls may heal on their own with simple care.
The first step to treating your pulled hamstring is recognizing the symptoms. Most people pull their hamstrings while playing a sport or during an exercise that involves a lot of running or jumping. Pulled hamstrings occur when one of the muscles along the back of the thigh stretches too far. The hamstring may even begin to tear. Those with a pulled hamstring tend to experience:
- Sudden, severe pain while exercising
- Snapping or popping feeling along the back of their thigh
- Pain in back of thigh while walking
- Tenderness and bruising along the back of their legs
The pain level may vary depending of the severity of the injury. Some people may only experience a minor pain. However, no pain in the hamstring should be ignored, no matter how mild. A small pull can turn into a big problem if gone untreated.
Minor to moderate hamstring pulls will most likely heal in a few weeks. However, you want to be careful and rest your legs. Putting stress on your legs will only worsen the problem.
For the first 24 to 48 hours after your injury, take it easy. Don’t try rehabilitating your leg just yet. Instead, follow these steps:
- Ice the Injury. As soon as you pull your hamstring, put ice on the injured leg to reduce swelling and alleviate the pain. Ice for 15 to 20 minutes every hour for the first couple of days after the injury. After this, you can reduce the amount of icing depending on your pain level.
- Rest Your Leg. Try to put as little weight as possible on the affected leg. Putting weight on the affected leg will only worsen your injury. Your sports therapy physician may even suggest using crutches until your leg has healed.
- Elevate Your Leg. While resting your leg, elevate it as much as possible. Whenever you are lying or sitting down, place some pillows under your leg to elevate it.
- Compression Bandage. Wrap your leg with a compression bandage to reduce swelling in the leg.
- Anti-inflammatory Pain Relievers. Over the counter medication such as ibuprofen can help reduce the swelling and alleviate pain.
After the first few days of rest, you should be able to start a rehabilitation treatment with your sports therapy physician. You will focus on stretching and exercising your pulled hamstring to insure it heals properly.