I recently pulled my hamstring while running a few weeks ago. I took a few days off running and then tried to start up my regular running after that. All was fine until I decided to play some basketball. Why must I cross train!?
Well, I pulled my hamstring again sprinting up and down the court. So, now I’m sitting with a bum hamstring knowing that I obviously didn’t heal it properly the first time. Having learned from my mistake, I’ve discovered a few simple yet brilliant pulled hamstring treatments that can help anyone out there with a bum “hammy” as well.
Treatment 1: RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation)
According to the doctors over at Medicinenet.com, here’s the best initial treatment:
The goal of treatment is to restore muscle function and prevent scar formation. Initially, treatment consists of rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Rest refers to avoidance of offending activities and oftentimes includes immobilization. In severe cases, crutches or splinting may be necessary. Ice, compression, and elevation all assist in controlling pain and swelling. A short course of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medication such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Children’s Advil/Motrin, Medipren, Motrin, Nuprin, PediaCare Fever, and others), or naproxen (Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn, Aleve) may be helpful.
Luckily for most pulled hamstrings, this will basically do the trick. In very rare cases, there are more severe hamstring tears that will require treatment, but for most the RICE formula will work just fine. My problem was that I didn’t rest it well enough. I did take a couple of days off from my regular running, but after that I jumped right back into running my normal distances. Bad move.
I should have rested longer and then very gradually built back up to my normal daily mileage.
Treatment 2: Proper Stretching
As I have written previously, you should not be stretching cold. In fact, this means even not to stretch before you run. Stretching is best done after a warm up of some sort or after you have completed your exercises. There are lots of different hamstring stretches that you can choose from, but here is one offered by Nikki Kimball over at Runner’s World.
Stretching helps reduce the risk of aches turning into full–blown injuries. But it can be difficult to get at the hamstrings without stressing the sciatic nerve, which runs parallel to the muscles in the back of the leg. This exercise stretches the hamstrings, not the nerve.
HAMSTRING STEP STRETCH
Put one foot on an eight–inch step. Keep your toes pointed forward and knee slightly bent. Looking straight ahead, lean forward from the hips and pelvis while maintaining an arch in your lower back. Once you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh, hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. If you feel a stretch in your calf, then you’re stretching the nerve. Reposition yourself so the sensation in your calf disappears.
Whatever hamstring stretch you choose, just be sure to work slowly after a nice warm up or during a cool down.
Treatment 3: Strengthen Your Hamstrings
This is really more of a prevention technique than a healing treatment. Stengthening your hamstring through various exercises really can help prevent injuries and can make you stronger at running (or whatever your sport of choice).
Here’s a couple of exercises that you can do at home to help strengthen you hamstrings.
Overall, there plenty of other exercises that could be done to also help strengthen your hamstrings. Its a good idea to let your torn or pulled hamstring heal for a week or 2 before you attempt any strength exercises. After that rest period, it would be good to plan strength exercises once a week.
Hamstring injuries are certainly no fun, but on the bright side they are a fairly common injury that does not take a relatively long time to heal. After a week or 2 of following the 3 treatments discussed above, you should be able to begin slowly building up your running mileage or other sport activities again.
And trust me from my personal experience, its better to rest fully before attempting to run at full speed again; otherwise you risk injury it all over again.
Have any thoughts on the subject? Leave your comments below!