woman grasping her leg after a hamstring strain during physical activity

On the mend: a comprehensive guide to healing a hamstring strain

If you’ve ever experienced a hamstring strain, you know it can put a damper on your daily activities. Whether you're an avid athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or simply encountered this common injury during daily activities, your local CityMD is here to help.

Hamstring strains can be disruptive, but with proper care and attention, you can be back on your feet soon. In this guide, we provide you with valuable insights and practical tips to aid your recovery.

What is a hamstring strain?

Let's start by understanding what a hamstring strain is. Your hamstrings are a group of three muscles at the back of your thigh, and they help you do things like run, jump, and bend your knee.

A hamstring strain happens when these muscles get stretched too much or torn due to sudden, forceful movements. It's a common injury for athletes and active people who do a lot of physical activities.

Hamstring strains can vary in severity, from mild tightness and discomfort to sharp pain, swelling, and trouble walking. Knowing how serious your strain is will help you plan your recovery effectively.


Signs of a hamstring strain

Spotting the signs of a hamstring strain early on is important. Here are some common clues that you may have strained your hamstring.

  • Pain or discomfort. You may feel pain in the back of your thigh, specifically around the area of your hamstrings. It can range from mild discomfort to a sharp, intense ache.
  • Tenderness to the touch. If you touch the affected area, you might notice tenderness or sensitivity.
  • Swelling. Swelling can occur in the back of your thigh, particularly near the injured muscle.
  • Bruising. In some cases, bruising may develop around the strained area due to damaged blood vessels during the injury.
  • Limited range of motion. You might find it challenging to fully extend your leg or bend your knee without discomfort.
  • Weakness in the leg. A hamstring strain can cause weakness in the affected leg, making walking, running, or climbing stairs more difficult.
  • Popping sensation. Some people may hear or feel a "popping" sensation at the time of the injury.

If you're experiencing these symptoms, take immediate steps to prevent further damage and begin the healing process. Walk into your local CityMD urgent care for an accurate diagnosis and individualized treatment plan.


Tips for healing a hamstring strain

Recovering from a hamstring strain requires patience, commitment, and a well-rounded approach.

Here's a guide to help you heal and regain strength in your hamstrings.

  • Rest. Give your hamstrings time to heal by avoiding activities that worsen the strain. Rest is crucial in the early stages.
  • Ice. Apply ice for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours to reduce pain and swelling. Wrap the ice pack in a cloth.
  • Compression. Use a bandage or wrap to support the injured thigh and minimize swelling.
  • Elevate. Raise your leg whenever possible to reduce swelling and promote healing.
  • Pain relief. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage discomfort and inflammation.
  • Stretching and strengthening. Gradually incorporate gentle stretching and strengthening exercises to improve flexibility and muscle strength.
  • Physical therapy. Consider seeking assistance from a physical therapist for a tailored recovery program and proper exercise execution.
  • Heat therapy. After the initial phase, use heat to relax and soothe the muscles.
  • Gradual return. Ease back into low-impact activities as you start feeling better. Avoid pushing yourself too hard too soon.
  • Prevention. Once healed, take preventive measures like warm-up exercises, regular stretching, and maintaining overall strength and flexibility.


How long does a hamstring strain take to heal?

The healing time for a hamstring strain can vary depending on its severity and individual factors.

Here's a rough estimate.

  • Mild strain (grade 1). Around 1-2 weeks with proper care.
  • Moderate strain (grade 2). About 4-8 weeks of recovery and rehab.
  • Severe strain (grade 3). Expect 3 months or more for healing, including physical therapy.

Don't rush the recovery process. Listen to your body, follow your healthcare provider's advice, and you'll be back in action soon.


Treating a hamstring strain at CityMD

At CityMD, our compassionate medical professionals will accurately diagnose your hamstring strain and create a personalized treatment plan. We can also connect you with specialists in orthopedics or physical therapy if you need additional care. Simply walk right in, no appointment is needed.

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Visit any CityMD urgent care location in your community today for an evaluation with one of our expert providers.