But what is a hamstring? It isn’t actually a single ”string.” It’s a group of three muscles that run along the back of your thigh. They allow you to bend your leg at the knee.
During a hamstring strain, one or more of these muscles gets overloaded. The muscles might even start to tear. You’re likely to get a hamstring strain during activities that involve a lot of running and jumping or sudden stopping and starting.
Getting a hamstring strain is also more likely if:
- You don’t warm up before exercising.
- The muscles in the front of your thigh (the quadriceps) are tight as they pull your pelvis forward and tighten the hamstrings.
- Weak glutes. Glutes and hamstrings work together. If the gluts are weak, hamstrings can be over loaded and become strained.
What Does a Hamstring Strain Feel Like?
Mild hamstring strains may not hurt too much. But severe ones can be agonizing, making it impossible to walk or even stand.
Other possible symptoms of a hamstring strain are:
- Sudden and severe pain during exercise, along with a snapping or popping feeling
- Pain in the back of the thigh and lower buttock when walking, straightening the leg, or bending over
To diagnose a hamstring strain, a doctor or physical therapist will give a thorough physical exam. He or she will ask specific questions about how the leg was injured.