Almost all types of hamstring pulls and tears (except a complete hamstring rupture) can be properly treated with trusted therapies that are available for use at home. Complete ruptures usually require surgery. However, using these home therapies after surgery can help speed recovery, improve function, and increase range of motion in your hamstrings.
To treat hamstring pain and restore strength and range of motion in your hamstring muscles, treatment should focus on preventing scar tissue formation and muscle atrophy (shrinkage and weakening of the muscle).Proper treatment will get you back to regular activities sooner, stop your pain, and reduce the risk of future re-injury. This requires rest and the appropriate therapies at the right time.
Patient education and self-management are very important in recovering from a hamstring injury or pulled hamstring. Evaluate how you use your thigh muscles in daily activities to determine if you can decrease stress on your tissues. This may involve changing your technique and/or using correct or supportive equipment (proper shoes, mobility aids) to help you perform them more effectively and safely. Taking more frequent breaks during your work or activities can also alleviate stress. Speak with an occupational therapist or a professional in your specific activity or work setting to get the proper information.
Gradually Increase Activity
Once the pain from your pulled hamstring starts to decrease, a physiotherapist or athletic trainer can set up an individualized strengthening, endurance and stretching exercise program for you to rebuild your hamstring and leg muscles. A gradual build-up to your regular activities is essential during your rehabilitation to restore strength, fitness and co-ordination. Generally you will start with passive range of motion and isometric exercises (strength building exercises that involve contractions against resistance without moving your joints). Once you complete these with minimal pain, you will be able to participate in more dynamic movements and strengthening activities (like hamstring curls, squats, lunges, deadlifts, elastic tube exercises, water exercises, stationary cycling, walking, elliptical training and/or weight training). When tenderness is gone and you are able to fully tense the hamstring without any pain, you can gradually return to jogging or higher impact activities for short periods of time. It is important to stop if you feel any twinges of pain.
Aggressive stretching (yoga) too soon may stress your hamstring muscles and cause more aggravation. However, gentle stretching will be essential to regain normal tissue flexibility and prevent against scar tissue development (straight leg seated or standing stretching). Daily stretching (a few times a day) in which you hold stretches for 15 – 30 seconds each is recommended once you are ready. Use pain as your guide whether you are ready to move on to the next level or not.
Avoidance of aggravating activities (any activity that involves repeated bouncing movements or “stops and starts”) and activity modification(pursuing less strenuous, weight bearing routines) are recommended. It is suggested that you start at 50% of what you would normally do, and increase gradually as you see improvement in your condition. Warm up, with light jogging or a BFST® treatment and cool down, your leg after your activity. Individuals will often exercise or lift weights on their own to try and build up their strength; however in doing so, they can do more damage. A medical or fitness professional will help to ensure your rehabilitation process is effective.
Use Supportive Devices
To increase your comfort and prevent further damage you may want to use an upper thigh support (neoprene sleeve or brace), strapping, tape, or compression short which will help support the area, eliminate pulled muscles, and reduce stress on the injured tissue. Some of these are also designed for heat retention to prevent further strain. They can be used until your injury is gone or during active sports for additional stability. However they should not be worn at all times, as they can limit muscle development, cut off circulation and impede healing of your muscle tissue.