There’s nothing worse than a pulled muscle to stop you in your sporting tracks. If you’re looking at how to heal a hamstring strain fast, then we’ve got your back. Because we know what it’s like.
Years ago now I had a boyfriend who was training to be in the Fire Brigade. Being a Firefighter was the only thing he had ever wanted to be. He had literally devoted his life to getting in.
And then disaster struck in the first weeks of his basic training. He did pulled his hamstring doing shuttle run burpees, and that was it. Over.
He got kicked out of his class and had to wait until there was another intake of new students.
If we’d known how to heal a hamstring strain fast at that point in time, perhaps that wouldn’t have happened. That said, I did meet one of my most precious friends as a result of him being put back into a different class. So every cloud.
Anyway, I digress. We’re here to discover how to heal a hamstring strain fast so you don’t have his issues.
What is a pulled muscle?
A pulled muscle, specifically hamstring in this text, is when we tear one of the muscles. If you look at the picture above, you’ll see the hamstring comprises three muscles.
If one of these is torn, then that sharp sudden pain at the back of your thigh is a sign that you’ve overstrained your hamstring.
As with tearing anything, the pain and the effects can range from mild to more serious. Let’s have a look at some symptoms, the causes and how you can treat and rehabilitate from a pulled hamstring.
Symptoms of a hamstring strain
It isn’t usually difficult to spot the signs of a hamstring strain. You won’t be able to ignore the sharp spasm which suddenly stabs the back of your thigh. This can happen whilst you’re sprinting, or perhaps whilst you’re performing a movement that requires you to stretch fast. A sudden high kick, for instance.
Hamstring strain grades:
Grade 1 relatively mild. You’ll feel tightness and a twinge when you injure yourself. There’ll be little or no swelling.
Grade 2 more serious. You will feel the sharpness of that sudden gripe as your injury occurs. You’ll probably also get some swelling and that will be the end of your gymming or game play for the day.
Grade 3 is severe. You won’t just tear a little of your muscle, it will be to half or all of your hamstring muscle. You’ll likely need crutches in order to get around. And you will feel severe pain. And weakness. You’ll get immediate swelling as your body rushes to restore the injury. It’s possible to get bruising at grade 3 too.
Not all pain is a pulled hamstring
There are other reasons we could get pain in any muscle, for instance cramp, tendon strain or fractures can all lead to physical suffering . Be sure to get checked out by a medical professional if you’re unsure.
What causes hamstring strains?
We’ve seen how a hamstring strain is actually a tear, so let’s think about how these can be caused. It can happen in two different ways:
Sprint related hamstring damage
When you sprint or if you’re just general running, your hamstring muscle works really hard. And like my example above, doing other explosive exercises such as burpees has the same effect. Just before your foot hits the ground your muscles and tissues are contracting and expanding at massive speed under impact. This fast movement causes the pulling which leads to a tear.
This kind of injury will usually be sudden and the tears will be lower down the muscle where it joins your tendon. Although these feel bad right at the start, they can rebuild pretty quickly.
A note here about water. We’re always banging on about this to our customers. I can’t tell you the amount of eye rolls we’ve had over the years. But listen up. Water acts as an oil to your muscles. You can avoid all of this by greasing your muscle fibres so we minimise the effect of impact.
Hamstring strains from stretching
You’ll feel these higher up the back of your thigh. These often take longer to fix purely because the blood supply to this area isn’t as good. It’s the blood supply that feeds nutrients to the area, which is why when we hurt ourself the area turns pink.
Understanding referred pain
Referred pain is when we feel discomfort in one area, but the cause is in another. So, you may feel the result of a lower back or hip injury down your leg.
How to heal a hamstring strain fast
Let’s first look at immediate treatment to help the risk of damage to hamstrings getting worse.
Immediate first aid
This is the acute stage of your hamstring strain. It usually will take 3 to 4 days depending on how bad your injury is. This is when you take it easy. You’re injured. The only thing you’re concerned about it taking care of yourself. No sports. None. Not even walking if you can help it. Use ice, compression and elevation to let the blood flow to the right places. Fast.
The role of the different types of massage at different stages in your healing process
At this stage, book in for a light massage treatment. This will not work the muscles but instead will stimulate blood circulation to your affected area. As days and weeks pass, then the pressure will increase.
Why bother with massage at this point?
It’s important if you want to get back your full range of motion to avoid scar tissue. Think about it this way. If you cut yourself, you see a welt when your skin pulls back together again. It’s the same with our muscles. Scar tissue depletes the strength and performance of our muscles, the long-term effects of which can be multiple. And that’s for day to day living and inhibiting sport’s performance.
Massage helps to break down scar tissue and breaking down tight muscles. Initially, the more gentle touch stimulates healing through blood flow, but as time passes and your massage therapist works deeper into your muscles, it will increase your flexibility.
Hamstring strain exercises
You can stretch after the initial acute stage. This will improve your recovery as long as you don’t feel any irritation during them. If you do stop. And wait longer. It’s too soon.
When you’re doing static stretching with ease, you can move onto dynamic stretch. And then sport specific drills. Your therapist may advise you if you’re unsure.
Book your sports rehabilitation massage now
If you’d like to book in for a massage to heal your hamstring injury, then you can do so online.