If you are a recreational or competitive athlete in Greenville SC, then you may know a thing or two about hamstring injuries. You can't see them coming, and when you get hit with a hamstring strain, it's painful! Hamstring strains are one of the most common injuries I treat for the athletic population. As common as they occur, I think it's important for the athletic population to better recognize the extent of their hamstring strains.
If you don’t know what a hamstring strains feel like: It's a sudden, extremely painful, and a quick tightening in the back of your thigh. Usually it's difficult to move the leg once the injury occurs.
So you’re probably asking, "how long will this hamstring injury keep me out of sport or activity?"
Well there are different “grades” of hamstring strains, and understanding which “grade” you have will help you understand the recovery time needed to safely return to activity.
Grade I Tear:
- Classified as minor tears in the hamstrings.
- The hamstrings feel like cramping is occurring with activity, but the pain stops when you stop.
- You may think you can "run it off" but every time you try there's a "bite" in the back of the leg.
- The temptation is to think that with a day or two of rest will correct the strain. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. With a Grade I tear it's better to take off 2 weeks and receive treatment for the proper stretching and hands-on techniques. Delaying seeing a physical therapist can turn a simple 2 week recovery time into a chronic 1-2 month recovery. Usually you can keep active by doing swimming or cycling during your recovery time.
Grade II Tear:
- Classified as a partial muscle tear in the hamstrings. This is the most COMMON type of hamstring strain.
- If you're running and the back of your leg feels like someone has stabbing you, then you have a more serious strain.
- It will be painful during lighter activities like walking. Sometimes there is pain even during sleep.
- Swelling and bruising are likely to appear in the first few days.
- Recovery time is usually 4-6 weeks under the care of a physical therapist.
Grade III Tear:
- Classified as a complete tear of the hamstrings. Rare in recreational sports. More common with occupations with a risk of sudden impact on the low extremities (police, professional athletes, etc.)
- This type of tear may require surgery to return to full activity.
- The pain is similar to a grade II tear. However, it will be almost impossible to walk, and walking is usually presented with a limp.
- Recovery time is up to 3 months after surgery.
So those are the different kinds of hamstring strains and expected recovery time.
Now the best way to treat a hamstring strain, is to avoid one! To do that, a trained eye will have examine/correct your recreational or sport activity form. For most people, a few focused hamstring and core exercises can really help significantly decrease (even close to eliminate) your risk of hamstring strains. Furthermore, at Purposed PT we offer preventative therapies (Dry Needling & Stretch Therapy) which can significantly reduce your risk of injury by promoting fast recovery of your muscles! Also, don’t forget to ice the hamstring! You can buy a great ice pack by clicking HERE.
If you have questions about your pain/injury/limitation, or are interested in injury prevention, then call us at (864) 881-1712. We would love to take some time to help you.
If you need a physical therapist to evaluate, treat, or prevent your pain/injury/limitation, then schedule an appointment today.