Hamstring strain

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

Know the basics

What is hamstring strain?

Hamstring strains are caused by a rapid contraction or a violent stretch of the hamstring muscle group – a group of four muscles that run along the back of your thigh. These stretches in the hamstring can cause varying degrees of rupture in the muscle and tendon .

During a hamstring strain, one or more of these muscles gets overloaded. The muscles might even start to tear. You’re likely to get a hamstring strain during activities that involve a lot of running and jumping or sudden stopping and starting.

How common is hamstring strain?

Hamstring strains are common and occurs at any age, but it is considered as more popular in men. They strike athletes of all sorts including runners, skaters, and football, soccer, and basketball players.

However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of hamstring strain?

Mild hamstring strains may not hurt too much. But severe ones can be agonizing, making it impossible to walk or even stand. Other possible symptoms of a hamstring strain are:

  • Sudden and severe pain during exercise, along with a snapping or popping feeling
  • Pain in the back of the thigh and lower buttock when walking, straightening the leg, or bending over
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising

When should I see my doctor?

Early diagnosis and treatment can stop this condition from worsening and prevent another medical emergency, so talk to your doctor as soon as possible to prevent this serious condition.

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes hamstring strain?

The hamstring muscles are a group of three muscles that run along the back of your thigh from your hip to just below your knee. These muscles make it possible to extend your leg straight behind your body and to bend your knee. When any one of these muscles stretches beyond its limit during physical activity, injury can happen.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for hamstring strain?

You seem to have a higher risk of hamstring strain, if you have:

  • Sports participation
  • Prior hamstring injury
  • Poor flexibility
  • Muscle imbalance

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.


How is hamstring strain diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, a physical examination will be performed, he or she will ask specific questions about how the leg was injured, and some tests will be also recommended by your doctor such as blood test, or X-ray, etc.

How is hamstring strain treated?          

Luckily, mild to moderate hamstring strains usually heal on their own. You just need to give them some time. To speed the healing, you can:

  • Rest the leg: Avoid putting weight on the leg as best you can. If the pain is severe, you may need crutches until it goes away. Ask your doctor or physical therapist if they’re needed.
  • Ice your leg to reduce pain and swelling: Do it for 20-30 minutes every three to four hours for two to three days, or until the pain is gone.
  • Compress your leg: Use an elastic bandage around the leg to keep down swelling.
  • Elevate your leg on a pillow when you’re sitting or lying down
  • Take anti-inflammatory painkillers: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) will help with pain and swelling. However, these drugs may have side effects, such as an increased risk of bleeding and ulcers. They should be used only short term, unless your doctor specifically says otherwise.
  • Practice stretching and strengthening exercises if your doctor/physical therapist recommends them: Strengthening your hamstrings is one way to protect against hamstring strain.

In some severe cases where the muscle is torn, you may need surgery. The surgeon will repair the muscles and reattach them.

Recovery time depends on how badly you injured the hamstring. Keep in mind that people heal at different rates.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage hamstring strain?

While you get better, you should work the hamstring with a new activity that won’t aggravate the strain. For instance, runners could try doing laps in a pool. Whatever you do, don’t rush things. Don’t even try to return to your old level of physical activity until:

  • You can move your leg as freely as your uninjured leg
  • Your leg feels as strong as your uninjured leg
  • You feel no pain in your leg when you walk, then jog, then sprint, then finally jump.

You can reduce your risk by following these useful ways:

  • Warm up before and stretch after physical activity.
  • Increase intensity of your physical activity slowly, no more than a 10% increase a week.
  • Stop exercising if you feel pain in the back of your thigh.
  • Stretch and strengthen hamstrings as a preventative measure.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

msBahasa Malaysia

Review Date: February 13, 2017 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019

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