A hamstring injury is a strain or tear to the tendons or large muscles at the back of the thigh.
It’s a common injury in athletes and can happen in different severities. The 3 grades of hamstring injury are:
- grade 1– a mild muscle pull or strain
- grade 2– a partial muscle tear
- grade 3– a complete muscle tear
The length of time it takes to recover from a hamstring strain or tear will depend on how severe the injury is.
A minor muscle pull or strain (grade 1) may take a few days to heal, whereas it could take weeks or months to recover from a muscle tear (grade 2 or 3).
The hamstrings are tendons (strong bands of tissue) at the back of the thighs that attach the large thigh muscle to the bone.
The term “hamstring” also refers to the group of 3 muscles that run along the back of your thigh, from your hip to just below your knee.
The hamstring muscles are not used much while standing or walking, but they’re very active during activities that involve bending the knee, such as running, jumping and climbing.
What causes hamstring injuries?
A hamstring injury often happens during sudden, powerful movements, such as sprinting, lunging or jumping that overstretch your tendons or muscles. The injury can also happen gradually during slower movements.
Recurring injury is common in athletes and sportsmen, as you’re more likely to injure your hamstring if you’ve injured it before.
Regularly doing stretching and strengthening exercises, and warming up before exercise, may help reduce the risk of injuring your hamstring.
How do I know if I’ve injured my hamstring?
Mild hamstring strains (grade 1) will usually cause sudden pain and tenderness at the back of your thigh. It may be painful to move your leg, but the strength of the muscle should not be affected.
Partial hamstring tears (grade 2) are usually more painful and tender. There may also be some swelling and bruising at the back of your thigh and you may have lost some strength in your leg.
Severe hamstring tears (grade 3) will usually be very painful, tender, swollen and bruised, making it difficult to walk and stand. There may have been a “popping” sensation at the time of the injury and you’ll be unable to use the affected leg.
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