Many people are familiar with the term “hamstring” despite the fact that neither a string nor ham is involved. The hamstring is actually a collection of three muscles found in the back of the thigh area that making bending at the knee possible. Unfortunately, one of the most commonly known facts about this muscle group is that hamstring injury recovery time can be significant, depending on the severity of the injury. What is perhaps less well known however, is that there are many things that can be done that can not only reduce discomfort, but also possibly shorten hamstring injury recovery time as well. We’ve put together the ten most interesting facts about the healing process and re-injury prevention, including ways to reduce upper leg pain, alternative treatment methods and the best tips for home care, too!
General Guidelines for Torn Hamstring Injury Recovery Time by Grade:
- Rehabilitation exercises should be started as soon as possible to aid recovery
- Rest, ice, compression, and elevation can help manage pain and swelling
- Avoid activities that could worsen the injury, such as running, jumping, and sudden changes in direction
- Consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and treatment.
10 Hamstring Injury Recovery Time And Rehab Facts
- Hamstrings Tear Too! Although the most common type of injury to the muscles found in the back of the thigh is over-stretching, there are occasions where a complete tear occurs. Not only does this type of serious injury warrant a much more lengthily hamstring injury recovery time, but it also may require surgery to appropriately repair. Typically, injury extent is obvious due to the amount of discomfort involved, and sudden, intense pain should prompt evaluation from a doctor immediately.
- Immobilization is Important: Like it or not, not all injuries benefit from movement, and a hamstring injury is no exception. Keeping the weight off of the affected area is important not only to prevent the risk of re-injury but also to help promote more rapid healing. Using a pillow to support the affected area can be helpful as well and may also reduce hip pain relief related to the injury.
- Not All Hamstring Injuries Are Sports Related: It can be easy to brush off pain in the upper leg as something other than an injury for those who aren’t regularly involved in sports that involve a lot of running, jumping, or starting and stopping. However, it’s not just baseball and basketball injuries that contribute to hamstring damage. Growth spurts and simply not stretching before any type of physical activity can also lead to over stretching the hamstring muscles, and not identifying the injury in the first place can be a big contributing factor to a lengthy hamstring injury recovery time.
- Re-Injury Is Common: It may seem like no big deal to return to regular activity as soon as the affected leg starts to feel better, but for those that are regularly active, too much activity too soon can greatly increase the chances of furthering damaging the affected muscles. Without the required appropriate time to heal, what started as a mild strain can progress to greater damage and therefore dramatically increase hamstring injury recovery time.
- Proper Home Care Is Critical: Aside from immobilization, utilizing injury care techniques at home can not only help to reduce the pain and discomfort associated with the injury but may also contribute to reducing hamstring injury recovery time as well. Icing the affected area, for instance, can help to reduce swelling and inflammation which are huge causes of pain. Ice packs are ideal for this, and when combined with rest and elevation can have a major impact on the amount of time an injury is bothersome and uncomfortable.
- Alternative Therapies are Available: A trip to any sports injury clinic Toronto or other major city has to offer is sure to provide a view of athletes coming in and out, and many of them are there for a revolutionary treatment known as whole body cryotherapy. This treatment, which uses super cooled gases to externally stimulate the body with blasts of intense cold is thought to work in multiple ways to promote healthy healing. Stimulating damage repairing immune responses, prompting pain relieving processes from the body and delivering inflammation reducing relief are just some of the ways the treatment is thought to work. Surprisingly, the cost of cryotherapy is relatively affordable (starts as low as $29 for a trial) and the method not only provides post-performance recovery benefits to athletes, but it may also reduce hamstring injury recovery time as well as evidenced by successes in many types of sports related injuries.
- Physical Therapy May Be Required: Although immobilization is almost always recommended when the hamstrings are damaged, in more severe cases of injury, physical therapy may be directed by a healthcare provider. Not only may coordinated and therapeutic movements help to heal the injury, but they are also essential for strengthening the muscles which can significantly reduce the risk of damaging them in the future.
- The Use of Anti Inflammatories Requires Caution: It can be tempting to consistently use anti inflammatory medication to help provide pain relief, and doing so may help slightly reduce hamstring injury recovery time, too. However, these types of medications should only be used under the advice of a health care provider for anything other than short term use. Prolonged use of over the counter anti inflammatory medications can lead to side effects like ulcers and bleeding. Injuries that are slower to heal will benefit more from home care treatment, physical therapy if recommended and alternative treatments like cryotherapy, instead of prolonged medication use.
- It Is Far More Difficult to Treat Hamstring Injuries Than Prevent Them: Although modern medical technology and the use of home treatments can make managing damage to the hamstring less challenging, doctor’s remind athletes and regular folks alike that preventing injury is a much better route to take than treating them when they occur. For people who are not regularly active or those just starting an exercise program, stretching, stopping when pain is apparent and only increasing the amount of exercise or activity by a small percentage each week can help reduce injury risk. For those that have recently had an injury, these suggestions also reduce the risk of further problems.
- Permanent Damage Is Possible: For people who have injured their hamstrings, re-injury may seem like the biggest cause for concern. However, there is a much bigger reason to be cognizant of hamstring injury recovery time and to properly treat an injury before returning to normal physical activity. Repeated damage to the hamstrings can actually lead to permanent and irreversible damage to the muscles which can lead to lifelong muscle weakness.
The Orthopaedic Society of North America. (n.d.). Hamstring Muscle Injuries.