We've all been there once or twice before. You're in a hurry to squeeze your workout into your busy daily schedule and forget to stretch. You hop on the treadmill, elyptical, or whatever exercise machine it may be and boom, the excruciating pain of tearing your hamstring rips through the back of your leg like a thousand knives. Trying not to look like a complete idiot, you hobble off your machine and limp your way into the locker room, every step of the way the pain growing worse and worse. Fortunately, their are ways to prevent tearing your hamstring, but in the event of tearing a hamstring, their are ways to aid in the healing process to get you back to the gym in a jiffy!
We use our hamstrings everyday, whether we realize it or not. Walking, running, climbing the steps in your home, are all daily activities that incorporate the use of your hamstrings. The hamstring is made up of three main posterior thigh muscles; the semitendonosis, the semimembranosus and the biceps femorus. The actual hamstring muscles cross and act upon two primary joints, the hip and the knee. These muscles help us flex, bend, and move without falling to the floor like a sack of potatoes.
Injuring or tearing your hamstring can be extremely painful and put you on the disabled list for quite awhile. Tearing your hamstring is similar to taking a steak and ripping it apart with your hands, you can see the steak fibers slowly pull away from each other. Well, your hamstring is similar, the muscles tear away from one another making it more difficult for them to function properly, and causing intense pain. To avoid a hamstring injury, first and foremost you must STRETCH, no matter what. Even if you have to wake up an extra 10 minutes early everyday to stretch out your muscles, stretching should be a part of your daily routine. Secondly, don't overwork your hamstrings. Limit your amount of leg exercises at the gym and make sure to incorporate effective quadricep exercises as well, to keep a healthy balance between both the quadriceps and hamstrings. If you don't have an effective balance between the quadriceps and hamstrings, one muscle group will actually pull the other muscle group causing an imbalance which puts you at a higher risk for tearing your hamstrings or even your quadriceps.
Healing your injured hamstring can take what feels like an eternity to heal. Rest and Ice are the two best things to help heal a hamstring injury. Putting ice on the hamstring for 15-20 minutes every 2 hours or so can help the swelling go down, which in return reduces your pain. Another idea is to massage the hamstring. By massaging the hamstring it allows the muscle group to receive proper blood flow and oxygenation which also helps heal a hamstring injury. Of course their are other ways to help heal a hamstring injury like ice baths, Advil for pain, and if the injury gets too intense, prescription pain medicine, and possibly surgery for the more severe injuries.
Always remember to take 10-15 minutes at the very least every morning to stretch your muscles out. When stretching your muscles you are allowing more blood flow and oxygen to reach each individual muscle helping prevent injuries. Don't forget to take your time during leg exercises and have a good balance between quadricep and hamstring exercises to prevent one muscle group from pulling too much on the other and ultimately causing an injury.
Author: Nick Ferrigno