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Hamstring strains are very common injuries that can also cause significant pain. Hamstring strains occur when you over stretch one of the three hamstring muscles. When this excessive stretching occurs the muscle fibers begin to tear. If the fibers completely tear a rupture can occur.  Hamstring strains can be caused by doing too much too soon or beyond your limits, having poor flexibility, having poor muscle strength, a muscle imbalance between the quadriceps (thigh muscles) and hamstrings, overexertion, leg length differences, an improper or no warm up, and also a history of hamstring injuries. Avoid any of those as much as possible to help prevent a strain! Below is a picture of a hamstring strain complete with some beautiful bruising!

Hamstring Bruising


The correct medical terms for these muscles are the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and the biceps femoris.  The Semimembranosus is the muscle that runs on the medial side (or inside) of the back of the leg. The semitendinosus muscle also runs down the medial side of the back of the leg, but is more lateral than  the semimembranosus. The biceps femoris is the muscle that runs on the lateral side of the back of the leg. See pictures below to help you locate these muscles.




If you think you have a hamstring strain some symptoms you may have include:

  • Pain in the back of the thigh, lower buttock, or back of the knee when:
    • Walking
    • Straightening the leg
    • Bending over
  • A snapping or popping sensation in the back of the leg
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Inability to put weight on the injured leg

Hamstring Strains are graded (1-3) based on the severity of the injury and the signs and symptoms of the injury. The following signs and symptoms are normally, but not always seen in hamstring strains of the given severity.

  • Grade 1:
    • Discomfort with walking
    • Tightness in the back of the thigh
    • Minimal swelling
    • Slight pain when bending the knee against resistance
  • Grade 2:
    • Difficulty with walking, possibly a slight limp
    • Pain during activity
    • Noticable swelling and or bruising
    • Pain and difficulty with bending the knee against resistance
    • Inability to straighten the knee
  • Grade 3 – indicates a complete muscle tear/rupture:
    • Severe Pain
    • Major swelling or bruising
    • Difficulty walking, may need crutches
    • Can’t Bend or straighten the knee
    • **If you suspect a grade 3 muscle strain seek medical attention as soon as possible!**

If you’re one of the many people who has one of these very uncomfortable strains I’m sure you’d like to know how to fix it or make the pain go away. So here’s a few things you can do:

  • Take some time off from exercising!
  • Apply ice over the area that hurts
  • Apply a compression bandage if there is swelling
  • Take pain medications like Advil. Tylenol will also help with the inflammation
  • Elevate the injured leg while resting to help with removal of swelling

**Seek medical attention of these things aren’t helping!

  • Surgery may be necessary to repair a ruptured muscle
  • Complete rehab to help with muscle strengthening after the injury and to help prevent more strains in the future!



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