Hamstrings are one of the most frequently strained muscles. They tend to linger and most rehab for them sucks. This will be the early care guide for a hamstring strain.
What Are The Best Exercises To Treat A Hamstring Strain?
Do not use RICE, POLICE, PRICE or any of those useless abbreviations (LINK). When you need to treat a hamstring strain, you need to strengthen it. To treat and rehab a hamstring strain, you need to focus on the main function of the hamstring, knee flexion. This muscle is almost always strained when trying to slow down. Yes, the hamstring also works to extend the hip, but it is rarely injured that way so we will focus on knee flexion.
- Toe touch stretch
- Hamstring curls
Isometrics For A Hamstring Strain
Isometrics are the single best rehab early on in the rehab phase. They strengthen the muscle without lengthening or shortening of the muscle. This allows the exercise to be very tolerable early on as well as having 0 risk of damaging the muscle.
- Squeeze the heel into the leg of a chair, back of a couch etc
- Hold the position for 5 seconds
- Complete 20 reps
- Perform this twice a day, separated by 6 hours
Toe Touch Stretch For A Hamstring Strain
This is NOT a static stretch. This is going to be moving the muscle through as much pain free ROM as there is.
- Reach as low as possible with as little pain as possible
- Hold this position for 1 second
- Release and go back to standing up right
- Perform this again and find that painful range again
- As you perform more and more reps, that painful sticking point will get lower and lower and full ROM is established
- Perform 50 reps per session, twice a day
- Repeat for as long as needed to restore full ROM
Hamstring Curls For A Hamstring Strain
Do not progress to this until you have full ROM. Strengthening a muscle in a limited motion will result in causing more dysfunction and increasing injury risk. Below are three options pending what equipment you have access to.
- Regardless of option, complete 3 sets of 12 reps
- Increase reps before adding weight
- ie progress from 12-15-20 reps, then add weight when 20 is achievable
These exercises will take you from an acute hamstring strain to being able to have normal ROM and moderate returns in strength. You are now ready for a traditional strength program to return to normal function.
A lot of times, a hamstring injury and a groin injury can present very similarly. Learn how to manage a groin strain here.