Causes of a Pulled Hamstring
Hamstring pulls are a result of the one or more of the hamstring muscles (biceps femoris muscle, semitendinosus muscle, and semimembranosus) being stretched too far. This extra stress placed on the hamstrings can occur during:
- Active sports that require speed, power and agility (soccer, football, baseball, softball, basketball, rugby, tennis, water skiing)
- Track & field activities that involve a lot of jumping, kicking, running and fast "stop/start" motions with your legs (sprints, hurdles, long jump)
- Individual activities can put a lot of continuous pressure on your hamstrings (running, water skiing, skating, cheerleading, dancing, weight lifting, climbing). These athletes are susceptible to chronic pulls as a result of the repetitive nature of their activities. They often suffer from avulsion fractures following a burst of speed.
The main cause of hamstring pulls are weak or unconditioned hamstring muscles and poor flexibility. When the hamstring muscles are not in shape and not properly warmed up for use they are more prone to pulls. Maintaining healthy muscles in the back of your thigh will result in less tightness, spasm, pulls, and strain in your hamstrings.
Muscle exhaustion decreases your strength, power and endurance which increase your risk for injury. Over-stretching, overexertion and overuse of your hamstring muscles occurs frequently in sporting activities and/or daily life.
Improper or No Warm-up
As with any muscle, not warming up your hamstrings before use increases the chance of a muscle pull. Cold muscles are less elastic and pliable compared to warm muscles that are ready to contract and extend as needed during activity.
Using and Leg/Arm Inferno Wrap prior to activity will improve blood flow and warm the muscle tissue. This will make your hamstrings and hip flexors more flexible and ready for activity with less risk of injury.
Doing too much, too soon, too fast, or exercising and moving about in cold weather, puts you at even more risk for a pulled hamstring.
Tight Muscles During Activity
Sometimes you will get a pulled hamstring doing very simple tasks like landing in a strange way from a jump, aggressively stretching in yoga class, or running after your kids or the bus. When your hamstrings or hip flexor muscles are tight and not flexibly, your chances for injury are increased. Without flexibility, your range of motion is limited and any stretch beyond your comfortable range can cause a pull in the muscle. Tight hip flexors tilt the pelvis forward which causes the hamstrings at the back of the thighs to stretch, reducing the range of motion.
Utilizing a poor technique (over-striding in running or walking), improper equipment (old shoes) or hard and uneven training surfaces during activities will often put your body at a higher risk for injury. These will also make you feel more tired as the inefficient movements require you to use more energy to complete tasks than required.
The above causes are often self-imposed; which means with a little self-management you can have some control over the risk of injuring your hamstring muscles. However, the following conditions can make you more prone to hamstring injuries and be the cause of a number of the above situations.
Strength differences (between the hamstring and quadriceps or lower back and pelvis muscles) and poor coordination can increase the risk of a pulled hamstring. Your quadriceps often overpower your hamstrings (generally if hamstring strength is less than 60% of quad strength), which is seen frequently with triathletes as they mix running and cycling.
Predisposed Condition and Aging
Tight hamstring muscles often result from not stretching properly before your activities. However, shortened and tightened muscles, spine stiffness and poor flexibility can be hereditary and/or a side-effect of aging; it is seen more frequently in men than women. All of these can cause a lot of pressure on your body (low back stiffness can pressure your sciatic nerve which causes your muscles to tighten) and require a lot of work on your part (daily stretching).
Alignment issues, leg length discrepancies, or overpronation or supination (which affects the way your foot hits the ground when you walk) can put a lot of stress on your hamstring muscles and result in a pulled hamstring. Overpronation occurs in at least 60% of people with hamstring strains.
Other factors that can put extra tension on your hamstring and influence your risk of experiencing a pulled hamstring include:
- Poor fitness levels and lack of exercise
- Poor nutrition and obesity
- Posture irregularities (lumbar lordosis)
- Meniscal injuries
- Neural tension (scar tissue around the nerves)
Previous Hamstring Injury
Repeated hamstring injuries are very common. They decrease the function and strength of your hamstring over time, and encourage inflammation, scar tissue and calcification development, so these damaged parts never heal properly. Impatience and incomplete rehabilitation (not letting injuries heal, so your body can return to peak performance level) is often the reason for repeat injury. This is seen most frequently in runners. Previous injuries to your lower back, pelvis, knees, calf and/or achilles tendon can also instigate a hamstring injury (especially if they haven't healed properly).
Pulled Hamstring Treatments
Hamstring pulls are frustrating to live with and healing can take a long time because it's difficult to give your leg the rest it needs. This is especially true for runners and other athletes that return to their sport too early. Re-injury is common but it prolongs recovery and may also lead to permanent damage and other conditions.
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.
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) 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.
Cold Compression Therapy – An Ounce of Prevention!
The initial treatment of a hamstring injury or re-injury 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 pull or 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.
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!
Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ - Faster Healing
Once inflammation and swelling have been reduced in your hamstring muscles, nourishing and strengthening the tissue in your upper leg is the goal. Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (BFST®) promotes blood flow to the treatment area bringing the necessary oxygen and nutrients to your muscle fibers. BFST® speeds up the body's natural repair process for faster healing and stronger tissue.
When you rest and stop moving your leg because it hurts, the natural blood flow is reduced. Without proper blood flow, musclar atrophy (shinkage or deterioration of a muscle) can occur as your body's ability to heal itself becomes limited. You need to improve blood flow while giving your hamstring the rest it needs. That's where the Inferno Wrap® comes in.
Not only does the Inferno Wrap® speed your recovery through BFST®, the gentle warming that is produced with the increase in blood flow relaxes your thigh muscles and and whisks away dead cells and toxins that have accumulated from your hamstring strain. This further loosens your muscles and makes your hamstring feel better.
Keeping your legs as healthy and strong as possible throughout the healing process will allow you to get back to your regular activities faster. The Leg/Arm Inferno Wrap®, available exclusively from MendMeShop®, provides effective, non-invasive, non-addictive pain relief and healing with no side effects.
The benefits of BFST® do not end once your hamstring stops hurting! Even when your upper thigh muscles have healed, your activities can put them at risk of an overuse injury, tightness, or another strain. An Inferno Wrap® treatment before activity is an easy way to warm up the muscles and prepare them for use. Then, end your day with another treatment to prevent tightness from setting in overnight. This incredible healing tool will be the ticket to healthy hamstrings for years to come!
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!
Please be aware that this information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.