A pulled hamstring is no joke, but the problem is that many times people don’t recognize the injury as serious and get timely treatment. That’s when Physical Therapy can help. It’s common to take a wait-and-see approach, which can turn a few weeks of recovery time into a few months. This is when it’s crucial to ask a Physical Therapist a quick question of “How do I know if I’ve pulled my hamstring?”
When you exercise, you create micro-tears in the muscle, which is normal. When these micro-tears heal, you gain strength in the muscle. However, a macro-tear is a large tear in the muscle, and is an injury that can require rehabilitation from a physical therapist to speed healing.
People sometimes confuse terminology and don’t think that a pull is a tear. But a pull or strain in a muscle usually refers to the same injury, which is a macro-tear in muscle tissue.
When you seek physical therapy for a pulled hamstring, a physical therapist will conduct an initial evaluation to assess the injury. To treat a hamstring strain, the first step is reducing pain and inflammation. Physical therapists normally recommend the PRICE principle (protect, rest, ice, compress and elevate). As part of this, you should stop any aggravating activities over and beyond the actives of daily living, such as exercising and sports play.
Physical therapists also use modalities like ultrasound, electrical stimulation, cryotherapy (ice massage, cold therapy), and soft tissue mobilization to reduce pain, swelling, inflammation and scar tissue.
Once the muscle is minimally painful or inflamed, you can start rehabilitation exercises to include light range-of-motion exercises, as well as strengthening exercises.
One exercise is light hamstring stretching, which involves lying on your back using a strap and pulling your leg straight up. Keep the knee straight and lift the leg until a gentle stretch in the back of the thigh is felt.
Strengthening exercises for the the hamstring would include pulling the heel to the butt: At a beginner level, this involves laying on your stomach with an ankle cuff weight and pulling your heel into your butt using your hamstring muscle. At the intermediate level, you could stand and do a knee curl while wearing an ankle weight.
An advanced exercise would be the Romanian Dead Lift. This is one of the best hamstring strengthening exercises because you are doing an eccentric exercise that is controlled and lengthening, a kind of contraction.
This is a type of muscle injury that physical therapy helps the sooner you get in. Recovery from a hamstring strain can be anywhere from 2-3 weeks to 4-6 months. If it goes untreated, you are more likely to be in the 4-6 month range. So go see a physical therapist right away to limit recovery time and get back into play. Be proactive! Find the Best Physical Therapist in NYC and get it checked out right away!