A hamstring tear, also referred to as a grade II hamstring strain, occurs when the hamstring muscle, or tendon, fibers are excessively stretched and tear.
Your hamstrings are very long muscles that cross 2 joints (your hip and knee) therefore they are more prone to injury. A tear in the hamstrings can occur in the belly of one of the hamstring muscles (the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, or semimembranosus) or in the hamstring tendons that attach the 3 muscles to the ischium.
The biceps femoris muscle is the most frequently injured, as it suffers the largest stretch during sprinting, followed by the semitendinosus muscle. If you have a multi-muscle tear, it normally occurs at the point where your hamstring muscles and tendons meet, called the musculotendinous junction or musculotendinous complex. However, a tear can occur at any place along your hamstring muscle bellies, or at the tendon attachments to the bone.
Hamstring muscle tears occur most often early in the activity as a result of a poor warm up, or in the later stages of practices or games as a result of fatigue. Young, active teens or adults between 25-44 years are most susceptible to hamstrings strains and other hamstring injuries, and men are twice as likely to be injured as women.
If you have suffered from a forceful strain of the hamstring it is recommended that you see a doctor for a proper diagnosis as symptoms of a complete tear are similar to those of a hamstring pull or strain. Early diagnosis of a complete hamstring tear is very important. If treatment is delayed, a torn hamstring tendon may pull further away from the bone. This can result in a greater loss of power, the need for surgery, or a more serious condition in the lower back, buttock, calf, or posterior thigh.
Hamstring Tear Causes and Risk Factors
Most hamstring injuries occur with a sudden forcible contraction of the muscles against resistence, when the muscle contracts while it is lengthened (an eccentric contraction). For example, when a water skier is pulled forward or a sprinter pushes off to propel forward.
The hamstrings are at greater risk of stretching or tearing if:
- the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, or semimembranosus are tight or fatigued.
- the hip flexors are tight
- the hamstrings or glutes are weak from inactivity or previous injury.
- there is a great muscle imbalance between the quadriceps and the hamstrings as it can cause the hamstrings to fatigue faster.
- you have not warmed up properly
- you have an old hamstring injury that did not heal properly
- you are a young athlete who is growing. Often, bones grow faster than the attached muscles which makes the hamstrings tight.
- you are participating in sports that can overload the hamstrings; soccer, football, basketball, running, sprinting, or dancing
Hamstring Tear Symptoms
- Pain at the back of the thigh, especially at the time of tear
- Sudden sharp pain at the back of the thigh when the tear occurs
- Abnormal gait and possibly limping
- Weakness in the hamstring muscles
- Limited range of motion
- Noticeable bruising and swelling
- Pain when the area of the tear is touched or when the knee if flexed
Hamstring Tear Treatments
First and foremost, a hamstring strain should be given the rest it needs. You will need to take a break from the activity or sport that caused the strain until it has healed to prevent further injury. Treating your hamstring strain correctly is essential to getting rid of your pain and restoring function to your upper thigh. Proper treatment will get you back to regular activities sooner, stop your pain, and reduce the risk of future re-injury.
Within the first 72 hours of the tear (and longer if necessary)rest and elevate your hamstring, applying cold compression frequently to reduce pain and tissue damage. The cold will numb the area to reduce pain and compression will limit swelling and bleeding in the muscle.
To restore strength and range of motion in your hamstrings, treatment should focus on preventing scar tissue formation and muscle atrophy (shrinkage and weakening of the muscle). This requires rest and the appropriate therapies at the right time. Almost all types of hamstring pulls and tears (except a complete hamstring rupture which usually require surgery) can be properly treated with trusted therapies that are available for use at home.
Cold Compression Therapy – An Ounce of Prevention!
The initial treatment of a hamstring tear is cold compression therapy. Treating an injury with cold compression therapy as soon as you can is important because it decreases swelling and inflammation. This limits the amount of tissue damage that occurs within the first 72 hours of an acute strain.
When a hamstring tear occurs we think the damage is done at the time of the injury. In reality, the tissue damage continues to occur even after the injury has happened. Yes, at the time of the injury blood vessels are damaged. But after the injury, swelling and inflammation set in and block blood vessels causing further damage. When this happens you will notice a hamstring contusion (hamstring bruising).
Blood contains oxygen that is vital to the survival of your tissue cells. Blocked blood vessels can no longer carry blood to your cells and the cells begin to break-down further damaging your injured hamstring. By applying cold compression therapy to a fresh injury or re-injury you reduce tissue damage and reduce the amount of healing that will be required to get your hamstring muscles and tendons back to normal.
Aside from preventing tissue damage, cold compression therapy reduces pain by gently numbing nerves in the injured area and providing comforting support to your hamstring muscles. Initially, you may use pain killers or anti-inflammatory medications but these can affect your organs and should never be used for a long period of time. Cold compression therapy is the natural way to reduce upper leg pain quickly.
The Leg/Arm Freezie Wrap® cold compression therapy is an effective and innovative way to treat your painful hamstring symptoms. The therapy behind the Freezie Wrap® has been doctor recommended for centuries but the Freezie Wrap® itself is a new, safer way to get it!
The cooling gel packs inside the Freezie Wrap® have been designed with ColdCure Technology®. This allows the pack to be supercharged in the fridge, not in the freezer like ice or other freezer packs. This gives you deep cold compression therapy without the risk of 'cold burns' or cryoburn to the layers of your skin. This unique technology, inside a soft and completely adjustable neoprene wrap, gives you comfortable, convenient, and effective cold compression therapy.
Have a Leg/Arm Freezie Wrap® on hand to treat your hamstring after activity and following any re-injury to calm inflammation, treat pain quickly, and stop further tissue damage. The wrap is so versatile you can use it on your arm, foot, calf, and almost everywhere on your body. Have one in your fridge ready when you need it!
Once the initial swelling and severe inflammation of your hamstring injury is under control (via use of the Freezie Wrap®, you can begin using BFST® to accelerate the healing process. Regular Inferno Wrap® treatments can further reduce inflammation, kick start the healing process, and treat scar tissue as it begins to form.
MendMeShop® Inferno Wrap® - Improved Range of Motion!
One of the most common complaints after a hamstring injury begins to heal is tightness and a limited range of motion. The tightness is caused by tough fibrous scar tissue build up on the muscles and/or tendons. Scar tissue is the body's way to heal tissue quickly. It forms at the site of the injury to repair tears, small or large. Although it repairs the tears, scar tissue is inflexible, prone to re-tearing, and can cause pain. Healthy tissue is stronger and more elastic. Healthy tissue allows your muscles and tendons to expand and contract easily, without pain and with less risk of tearing again. Treating scar tissue is the only way to restore muscle function properly and get your range of motion back!
The Inferno Wrap® is an effective and pain-free way to soften scar tissue and return your muscle tissue to a more flexible, stronger state. Physical therapy, manipulation, and deep tissue massage can help to treat scar tissue but these methods are expensive, time consuming, painful, and in some cases, may require further tearing to loosen the scar tissue.
A personal Inferno Wrap® allows you to treat your hamstring injury conveniently using Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ in your own home, on your schedule, and for less time and money than any other method. Inferno Wraps® also increase the flexibility of the muscle tissue, which speeds along the healing process and decreases your chance of re-injury. A 15 to 25 minute treatment, twice a day, will speed healing and further reduce your painful pulled hamstring symptoms while improving the range of motion in your upper leg. That's all it takes to get your hamstring muscle back to normal and you back to your activities!
In addition, hamstring pulls can lead to other overuse injuries if left untreated. The pain of a pulled hamstring can cause you to re-adjust your posture and change your gait to take weight off your sore hamstring muscles. This can cause excess strain in your back, hip, knees and ankles. The Inferno Wrap® can be used to treat all of your strains and tears, as well as other painful conditions like bursitis, tendinitis, and joint pain. It is a great tool to have on hand for so many soft tissue injuries!
With these 3 easy therapies: , Freezie Wrap® cold compression therapy, Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ through use of the Inferno Wrap® device and rehabilitative stretching through use of the Knee-Flex® Passive Knee Stretch Device, you will notice significantly reduced pain and an incredible improvement in your hamstring pain.
- Calm Inflammation
- Reduce Swelling
- Soften Scar Tissue
- Increase Range of Motion
- Stop Pain
- Promote Blood Flow
- Speed Healing
- Prevent Atrophy
You will notice significantly reduced pain and an incredible improvement in your hamstring range of motion.
During your recovery, you may have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort in your hamstring until your pain and inflammation settle. The more dedicated you are with your treatment and rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results!