Hamstring Strain

Common to participants in sports with a sprinting or jumping element, the tearing of a hamstring muscle on the back of the thigh results in hamstring strain (also know as a pulled hamstring).


A stabbing pain at the back of your thigh that strikes suddenly while training. This often occurs during the running cycle or a rapid increase in acceleration. Pain will then be present when trying to stretch or contract the muscle, making flexing the knee difficult. The degree to which you are unable to contract the hamstring may give an indication as to the severity of the injury. Due to the small tears in the muscle there is regularly accompanying bruising on the rear of the thigh, which can spread all the way down the leg. The thigh is prone to swelling up and you may experience muscle spasms.

Grades of Injury

The injury's severity can be graded from 1 to 3. Grade 1 is typified by minor tears, with the sufferer able to walk with pain and minimal swelling. Contracting the muscle against resistance should also not cause excessive pain. With Grade 2 injuries the tears are larger, affecting movement more seriously and possibly making straightening the leg unbearable. Grade 3 might necessitate the use of crutches due to a total rupture of the muscle. Swelling is immediately apparent and pain will be intense.


The hamstring often works hardest during sprinting. Muscle disparity between the quadriceps and hamstring is thought to lead to a significant amount of hamstring injuries. With very strong quads extending your leg but comparatively weak hamstring muscles slowing down knee extension, the hamstring becomes overworked and full of extreme tension. Fatigued or weak muscles, lack of strength or flexibility in the hamstring are other common factors resulting in injury.


You should begin self-treatment immediately, resting and icing the muscles and using a compression bandage or similar technique in order to place significant pressure on the injury and diminish bleeding within the muscles. Stretch and strengthen the muscles as much as possible without pain, beginning the rehabilitation process and lessening any surrounding swelling.

Medical Attention

You should consult a medical professional to determine the severity of the condition. In some cases they may take scans and you might require walking aids, with particularly severe injuries also sometimes entailing surgery. Your doctor may recommend a specialist in sports medicine to assist with your recovery, or otherwise help with organising a fitting recovery program. Suitable massage and advice on appropriate methods to exercise the healing muscle will be beneficial.


Continuous strengthening and stretching of the hamstring muscles will help to keep hamstring injury at bay. This involves arranging a committed routine with varied stretches to increase flexibility and power. You may also wish to cut back on hamstring-straining sports for a trial period. Other factors include correctly warming up, taking regular breaks for rest, and always recognising when your muscles are fatigued and therefore unfit for strenuous activity.

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