Dealing with a Hamstring Injury 1

Dealing with a Hamstring Injury

Whether you’re exercising or simply just running to catch the train, sudden acceleration, deceleration and change in direction can result in an acute hamstring injury. Knowing what to do can be the difference between a quick recovery or a frequently recurring hamstring strain or tear.


Your hamstring is the group of muscles located at the back of your thigh, which assist in bending your knee. An acute hamstring strain occurs due to sudden movement or force being applied to the muscle. You will be immediately aware of the condition and may even hear an audible pop. Swelling and bruising may or may not be obvious and walking may be painful or difficult.

Risk Factors

Proven risk factors for hamstring injuries include: 

  • Sudden change in direction when running – particularly common in soccer, rugby and track running.
  • A previous hamstring injury
  • Increasing age

Additional risk factors include: 

  • Poor flexibility and strength 
  • Fatigue 
  • Imbalance in strength between quads and hamstrings
  • Poor balance
  • Inappropriate or absent warm-up 

What to do about it 

If you suspect that you have a hamstring injury and you are unable to walk, you may need to use some crutches. Then follow your classic RICED formulae:

  • Rest the injured area
  • Ice the area 3-4 times per day
  • Use Compression
  • Elevate the leg as much as possible 
  • Get a Diagnosis from your physiotherapist

The current recommendation is not to take anti-inflammatories within 72 hours of the initial injury, as this appears to increase the risk of re-injury.

Time Frames for Recovery 

Timeframes for rehabilitation and return to sport vary depending on the nature and severity of the strain.  

Grade 1 Hamstring Strain

Rest from sporting activity for about three to four weeks. 

Grade 2 Hamstring Strain

Rest from sporting activity for a minimum of four to eight weeks.

Grade 3 Hamstring Strain

In the case of a complete rupture, the muscle may have to be repaired surgically. The rehabilitation will take three to six months post-surgery. 

Your physiotherapist can guide you through your recovery and help you limit a recurring injury, so you are back to sport or just life in general.

Contact Core Physiotherapy today if you need help managing a hamstring injury.