What is a hamstring strain?

Hamstring strains (tears) are extremely common injuries. They generally occur when the hamstring muscle is under tension as it is lengthening (eccentric contraction), which is why they are often seen in sports that involve sprinting and kicking.

Risk factors for hamstring strains

  • Previous hamstring strain
  • Poor leg muscle flexibility
  • Hamstring weakness
  • Poor core stability
  • Lower back stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of training

What are the symptoms of a hamstring strain?

Grade 1

  • Only a small amount of muscle fibres are torn
  • Mild pain with hamstring contraction and stretching
  • Minimal swelling and bruising

Grade 2

  • Up to 50% of the muscle fibres are torn
  • Moderate pain
  • Restricted hamstring strength and flexibility
  • Swelling and bruising

Grade 3

  • More than 50% of the muscle fibres are torn, there may be a complete rupture
  • Severe pain with hamstring contraction and stretch
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Often unable to weight-bear

How are hamstring strains treated?

Your physiotherapist will do a thorough assessment to determine the degree of injury to determine the appropriate treatment options and discuss the rehabilitation time frames.

Treatment may include:

  • Advice to rest, ice, compress and elevate the affected leg
  • Hands-on treatment once the bruising and swelling has reduced
  • Exercises to improve hamstring muscle flexibility and strength
  • Tailored exercises to address any risk factors, such as core stability and general leg strengthening exercises.