In the realm of sports-related injuries, the hamstring is one area that nearly everyone has heard mentioned at some point, oftentimes in the form of a “pulled hammy.” There’s a good reason for this, as a pulled hamstring or hamstring strain is one of the more common injuries in sports. The pain they cause can prevent an athlete from participating in their respective sport for a while, but following a course of physical therapy can lead to a much quicker recovery for New York City hamstring strains.
The hamstring is actually a muscle group that consists of three separate muscles—the semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris—that run down the back of the thigh from the lower part of the pelvis to the back of the shinbone. These three muscles are responsible for bending the knee and straightening the hip joint. The hamstring is balanced by the quadriceps muscles in the front of the thigh, which are responsible for the opposite function: extending the knee and flexing the hip. Together, they control the power and stability of the knee joint and allow for running and other activities.
A hamstring strain can affect any of the three muscles in its muscle group, and overloading these muscles is the most common cause for an injury. A muscle overload can happen when one of these muscles is stretched beyond its capacity or challenged with a sudden load. This is why hamstring strains are so common in sports, especially those that involve lots of sprinting or sudden changes in direction. Athletes who participate in basketball, football, tennis, soccer and the sprinting events of track, as well as dancers and gymnasts are therefore at a particularly high risk of sustaining a hamstring strain. Other risk factors for New York City hamstring strains include prior hamstring injury, muscle tightness, poor conditioning and older age.
When a hamstring strain occurs, it usually causes a sharp pain in the back of the thigh that may be felt immediately. Patients may also feel a “popping” or tearing sensation in this region, which may be followed by tenderness or swelling that may develop within a few hours. It’s also possible to experience bruising or discoloration on the back of the thigh soon after, as well as weakness in this area that can persist for weeks.
A hamstring strain may sound like a daunting injury, but in most cases conservative (non-surgical) treatment is all that’s needed. One of the best forms of conservative treatment for New York City hamstring strains is physical therapy, and at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy, we effectively treat these types of injuries all the time. Here’s how:
Typical treatment program for New York City hamstring strains
- Range of motion exercises: once your initial pain and swelling have subsided, we’ll get you started on some gentle stretching exercises like a hamstring stretch to improve your flexibility
- Strengthening exercises: we will then evaluate the strength of different muscle groups in your legs and introduce a series of strengthening exercises to build back up strength in any areas that are weak
- Manual therapy: your program may also include some manual therapy, in which your therapist will perform manipulations to your muscles and joints to improve your range of motion and strength
- Functional training: one of the final components of treatment, this type of training will include a variety of exercises that will be specifically catered to the sport or activity that you’d like to return to after treatment
If you’ve recently suffered from a pulled hamstring, it can be keeping you off your feet and preventing you from participating in the activities you love. Why not give physical therapy a try and see how quickly it can get you back into your game or hobby of choice? Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy sees and treats New York City hamstring strains all the time, and we can help get you back on your feet and moving normally in no time. Call 212-317-8303 to set up an appointment, and check out next month’s blog for a success story on a patient with a hamstring strain who recovered after four weeks of physical therapy.