Causes of Hamstring Muscle Strains
Hamstring muscle strains can happen suddenly or over a period of time. Strains that happen suddenly are called acute hamstring strains or thigh pulls. Those that happen as a result of wear and tear over time are referred to as chronic hamstring strains.
Acute thigh pulls are caused by a direct hit, a fall or accident or overloading of the hamstring muscles or tendons. Overloading may occur during heavy lifting or with inactivity followed by an activity that uses the muscles as they are not normally used. (i.e. game of football on the weekend).
Chronic hamstring strains are generally caused by overuse or an old hamstring injury that did not heal properly. A chronic strain injury occurs most often as a result of not warming up before an activity or in the later stages of practices or games as a result of muscle fatigue. Activity during cold weather causes muscles to contract. A muscle in contraction is more likely to strain so warming them up gently when they are cold is important to prepare them for use and reduce the risk of a hamstring injury.
Young, active teens or adults between 25-44 years are most susceptible to thigh pulls, and men are twice as likely to be injured as women. The damage can range from overstretching to partial tearing to a complete hamstring rupture in the fibers.
Weak hamstring muscles also play a role in knee or low back injuries (cause your pelvis to tilt abnormally). If you allow hamstring injuries to persist they can lead to repeated injury, periostitis (inflammation of the periosteum), and prolonged disability.
Strained Hamstring Treatments
Hamstring injuries are frustrating to live with and healing can take a long time because it's difficult to give your leg the rest it needs. This is especially true for runners and other athletes that return to their sport too early. Re-injury is common but it prolongs recovery and may also lead to permanent damage and other conditions.
Treating your hamstring strain correctly is essential to getting rid of your pain and restoring function to your upper thigh. Proper treatment will get you back to regular activities sooner, stop your pain, and reduce the risk of future re-injury.
To restore strength and range of motion in your hamstrings, treatment should focus on preventing scar tissue formation and muscle atrophy (shrinkage and weakening of the muscle). This requires rest and the appropriate therapies at the right time. Almost all types of hamstring pulls and tears (except a complete hamstring rupture) can be properly treated with trusted therapies that are available for use at home. Complete ruptures usually require surgery. However, using these home therapies after surgery can help speed recovery, improve function, and increase range of motion in your hamstrings.
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