Combating Hamstring Tears

Me:  In the lobby. Hi Jules. I can see that that that something is bothering you. 

Jules: She grins. I don’t know what I did to my hamstring. Everything was going so good! 

See, Jules runs daily. She’s a competitor, and she has a family and a full-time job. She describes running as being free. That’s telling of how important running is to her. 

We walk back to my office side by side. As we walk down the hallway, I’m secretly mimicking her walk and her pace to get and understanding of what is happening with her gait. I do this as part of my assessment. 

When we get to the door of my office, I let her go in first to see her movements as she turns left then right. Whether she sits or stands for further instruction will highlight the amount of pain and discomfort she is in. She remains standing. This indicates that she is in quite a bit of discomfort. 

Me: How’s sitting and standing for you?

Jules: It’s uncomfortable sitting for periods of time. Standing up from being seated is painful too. 

Jules finds herself standing at her desk at work. Lying in bed causes burning pain. The only thing that makes it feel better is moving. She continues running feels fine when she gets warmed up. She does partial squats, foam rolling, and stretching, but the pain doesn’t seem to get better. 

Understand this: Jules is not going to stop running even if she is hurt. She will alter her gate and stride before she gives up. Her motto is to work through the pain. The challenge is, Jules doesn’t like to take time off from running because she will lose too much momentum. 

She also doesn’t like deep painful massage. But she likes to see that massage is bringing her relief and helping the healing process. The session is kept to an hour. The session focuses 80 percent on the hamstring, 15 percent on the quad, and 5 percent on hip flexors. Massage strokes are long and gradually get deeper. Trigger points are held for long periods of time until the pain lessens. Lastly, focusing on resistive stretching at 25, 50, 75, and 100 percent of her ability. Her only homework was to do 10 deep squats and hold the bottom of her squat for a count of 10 seconds three times a day. This exercise stretches and activates the hamstrings. She could continue with her normal running routine. I suggested she lay off the foam roll for at least a week. Three days later, she let me know that she was sore, but significantly better. 

Jules herself doesn’t know what could have caused the tightness in her hamstrong. We can only assume that she miss-stepped, pushed off incorrectly, or slept poorly. This could be a tear, pull, or strained hamstring. 

Understanding Hamstring Tears

hamstring tear

Tears are most common. If the muscles or tendons that attach the muscle to bone are injured, a tear happens. Tears can be mild or severe, with severe tears possibly requiring surgery. Hamstring muscles are often injured during sports that involve sprinting, or quick changes of direction in movement. Muscle tightness, muscle weakness, or muscle fatigue can also increase your risk of a hamstring tear.

The most common symptom of a hamstring tear is sudden pain in the back of the thigh. Bruising and swelling may occur right after you injure the muscle. It may be difficult for you to walk, run, stand up from a chair, or climb stairs. The muscle may also feel fatigued or tired and weak.

Therapy can help you to decrease the pain and swelling caused by a hamstring tear. Therapy will also teach you how to increase your activity gradually while you heal. A therapist will also teach you how to stretch, strengthen, and move your body in the right ways to avoid re-injury. The idea here is to keep moving, to address the issue right away and understand how pain affects your body.

Hi. I’m Felicia. I’ve made a 20+ year career of massage and bodywork. And, I still love it. I also enjoy writing, playing music, photography, cooking, baking and painting. All of which I’m not very good at. I’m also a daily bike commuter.

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