The hamstrings are a group of three muscles along the back of the thigh. These muscles may become strained when the demand placed on the muscle exceeds their capacity. The location of the strain in the muscle can vary with strains being found not just in the muscle belly, but also near the tendons. The severity of the strain can range from a mild strain to a complete tear of the muscle. The mechanism of injury for a hamstring strain can vary as well. This can include high intensity movements such as running, jumping, or changing directions quickly. Some individuals may lack sufficient hamstring flexibility for specific tasks and place a greater stress in the hamstring muscle as a result. Others may experience an overloading of the hamstrings that exceeds its capacity. Those who have a history of a hamstring strain are at a greater risk for re-injury if not properly rehabilitated.
how physical therapy can help:
Physical therapy plays a pivotal role in rehabilitating a strained hamstring and preventing future injuries. When a hamstring muscle is injured, the body attempts to lay down new tissue to cover the wound. This tissue is often disorganized and weak leading to a greater risk of re-injury. During rehabilitation, the goal is to improve this tissue’s robustness and improve the overall capacity of the muscle. This is achieved through a combination of strengthening, stretching, and manual therapy techniques. Treatment will vary for each individual and will depend on not just the severity of the injury but also the goals of the individual. Therefore, physical therapy can serve as a comprehensive approach towards the healing and prevention of hamstring strains.
exercises that may help reduce pain:
If you experience more pain with these exercises, hold off from that particular movement.
Hamstring Stretch with Isometric – In this exercise, you will get set up in a half-kneeling position with your lead leg extended. You can have something placed under your knee for comfort. Fold your trunk over your lead leg until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of the thigh. From this position; gently press your heel downwards, triggering a contraction in the hamstring muscles. This movement should not cause any discomfort or pain.
Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat for 10-15 repetitions.
The Supine Bridge – The Supine Bridge, particularly with an eccentric focus, is an effective exercise for strengthening the glutes and hamstrings. Lie flat on your back, with feet elevated if desired, as shown in the accompanying images. Pushing through your heels, lift your hips off the ground to form a bridge. The key is to perform 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions, emphasizing a slow, controlled lowering phase from the bridge position.
Single Leg RDL – The Single-leg Romanian Deadlift (RDL) is an advanced exercise intended for those with a good baseline of strength and balance. It does not necessitate the use of weights, making the movement mainly about control and stability. During execution, emphasis should be on a slow, deliberate lowering phase, challenging the body’s balance and control. It is recommended to perform 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions of this exercise, ensuring proper form is maintained throughout.
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