Hamstring strain or a pulled hamstring as it is sometimes called is a tear in one or more of the hamstring muscles. Strictly speaking there are three hamstring muscles (Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus and Biceps femoris) which are known as the hamstring muscle group. The role of the hamstring muscles is to bend (flex) the knee and to move the thigh backwards at the hip (extend the hip). Understanding how the hamstrings work give vital clues as to their modes of injury. Mild to severe hamstring strains are extremely common in sprinters and hurdle jumpers and in all sports that involve sprinting activities, such as football and rugby.

Symptoms of a Pulled Hamstring

A sudden sharp pain at the back of the leg during exercise-most probably during sprinting or high velocity movements. Pain on stretching the muscle (straightening the knee whilst bending forwards). Pain on contracting the muscle against resistance. Swelling and bruising. If the rupture is severe a gap in the muscle may be felt.

Causes of Pulled Hamstrings

  • There are two kinds of strains:
    • Acute - when a muscle is pulled/stretched in a sudden manner
      • Slipping.
      • Running.
      • Throwing.
      • Jumping.
      • Lifting heavy objects with improper form.
      • Improper warm-up.
      • Environmental conditions.
      • Low quality equipment.
      • Fatigue.
    • Chronic - repetitive movements over a long period of time
      • Many sports such as swimming, racket sports, running etc.
      • Improper warm-up.
      • Environmental conditions.
      • Low quality equipment.
      • Fatigue.

Treatment of a Pulled Hamstring

It is vitally important that treatment for a pulled hamstring starts immediately following injury. The most important phase for treatment is the first 48 hours post-injury. In this time the following can be carried out by the athlete themselves:

  • Use Cold Therapy (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) technique.
  • Use a compression bandage to minimize intra muscular bleeding.
  • Early mobilization of the injured lower limb is vital for the correct rehabilitation of the muscle.

Our sport therapy can include:

  • Use ultrasound and electrical stimulation.
  • Prescribe a rehabilitation program.
  • Advise on specific stretches.
  • Provide mobility aids such as crutches.

Preventing a Pulled Hamstring

Some preventative measures include:

  • It is important to ensure that a proper warm up has been done to prepare muscles before strenuous activity.
  • Having an explosive movement may also cause a pulled hamstring as well, such as a sudden burst in energy to avoid a tackler in football.
  • If you feel tightness in the hamstring area when doing exercise it is suggested to stop the exercise.


We can help you accelerate recovery by using sports therapy techniques to speed up recovery- these are extremely important in the rehabilitation of the injury as massage breaks down the new collagen network allowing for correct fibre realignment and minimizing scar tissue. In addition therapy can increase the blood flow to the injured area.

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