Whether you play sport at the weekend, touch football in the backyard or just running to catch a train, sudden acceleration, deceleration and change in direction could cause an acute hamstring strain or tear. Knowing what to do can be the difference between a quick recovery or a frequently reoccurring injury.

A little bit of anatomy and the common causes

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. Walking may be painful or difficult.

Risk Factors

Proven risk factors for hamstring injuries are increasing age, sudden change in direction, having a previous hamstring injury and taking anti-inflammatories within 3 days of the first injury. Additional risk factors include: poor flexibility and strength, fatigue, imbalance in strength between quads and hamstrings, poor balance and inappropriate or no warm-up.

What to do about it 

If you suspect a hamstring strain or tear 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 you are able and 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.  As a general rule, Grade 1 hamstring strains should be rested from sporting activity for about three to four weeks, and Grade 2 injuries for a minimum of four to eight weeks. In the case of a complete rupture (Grade 3 strain), the muscle may have to be repaired surgically and the rehabilitation to follow will take three to six months post surgery. Your physiotherapist can guide through your recovery and help you limit your re-injury factors so you are back to sport or just life in general.

This article has been written by Tracey Lane, one of our Senior Brisbane Physiotherapists.

Make An Appointment 

Do you have a hamstring strain – new / old / recurrent?  Book in for your treatment now with Tracey Lane or one of our physiotherapy team via 1300 012 273

Tracey is available for appointments at our Corinda, and Beenleigh clinical sites. Read more about Tracey Lane and the rest of our team here.