Treatment for a Hamstring Strain-
Luckily, minor to moderate hamstring strains usually heal on their own. You just need to give them some time. To speed the healing, you can:
- Rest the leg. Avoid putting weight on the leg as best you can. If the pain is severe, you may need crutches until it goes away. Ask your doctor or physical therapist if they’re needed.
- Ice your leg to reduce pain and swelling. Do it for 20-30 minutes every three to four hours for two to three days, or until the pain is gone.
- Compress your leg. Use an elastic bandage around the leg to keep down swelling.
- Elevate your leg on a pillow when you’re sitting or lying down.
- Take anti-inflammatory painkillers. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) will help with pain and swelling. However, these drugs may have side effects, such as an increased risk of bleeding and ulcers. They should be used only short term, unless your doctor specifically says otherwise.
- Practice stretching and strengthening exercises if your doctor/physical therapist recommends them. Strengthening your hamstrings is one way to protect against hamstring strain.
In severe cases where the muscle is torn, you may need surgery. The surgeon will repair the muscles and reattach them.
How Can I Prevent a Hamstring Strain?
As hamstring strains can be nasty injuries, athletes should work hard to avoid them. After all, healing a hamstring strain is much harder than preventing it. Here are some tips:
- Warm up before and stretch after physical activity.
- Boost the intensity of your physical activity slowly — no more than a 10% increase a week.
- Stop exercising if you feel pain in the back of your thigh.
- Stretch and strengthen hamstrings as a preventive measure.