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  • Emily McGuire

Bouncing Back from a Pulled Hamstring: How Physical Therapy Can Ease Hamstring Strains

Hamstring strains, also referred to as pulled hamstrings, are a common woe for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, often sidelining individuals from their favorite activities. If you experience repetitive or worsening hamstring strains, it may be time to consider changing your approach. In this blog post, we’ll explore the causes of a pulled hamstring and illuminate how physical therapy can play a pivotal role in recovery and prevention.

Physical therapy for hamstring strains

Understanding Hamstring Strains:

The hamstring is a group of three muscles running along the back of the thigh. These muscles control movements like hip extension, knee flexion, and leg rotation. This muscle group is prone to strains from overuse, muscle imbalances, and inadequate warm-up. A hamstring strain occurs when the muscle fibers are stretched beyond their capacity, leading to microscopic tears and, in severe cases, significant injury. Common symptoms of a strain include pain, tenderness, stiffness, and swelling. More intense symptoms can occur in cases of extensive injury.


diagram of hamstring muscles


The Role of Physical Therapy in Hamstring Strain Recovery

Physical therapy can help those with hamstring strains recover safely and learn to prevent these injuries in the future. Here are some methods a physical therapist could employ to help with recovery:

  • Comprehensive Assessment: A skilled physical therapist will conduct a thorough evaluation to determine the extent and severity of the pulled hamstring. This may include gait analysis and tests to assess your range of motion and flexibility. Understanding the specific nature of the injury is crucial for developing a tailored treatment plan.

  • Gradual Rehabilitation Exercises: Physical therapists design a progressive exercise program that starts with gentle, controlled movements and gradually intensifies as the hamstring heals. These exercises focus on flexibility, strength, and proprioception to promote a well-rounded recovery.

  • Eccentric Strengthening: Eccentric hamstring exercises, which involve lengthening the muscle while under tension, are particularly effective in the later stages of rehabilitation. Physical therapists guide patients through these specialized exercises to rebuild strength and flexibility.

  • Functional Training: As healing progresses, physical therapists introduce functional exercises that mimic real-life movements. This step is crucial for ensuring that the hamstring is ready to meet the demands of daily activities and, for athletes, the rigors of their sport.

  • Prevention Strategies: A key aspect of physical therapy is educating individuals on preventing future injuries. This includes guidance on proper warm-up routines, muscle-strengthening exercises, and techniques to enhance flexibility.


Rehab United Can Help

A pulled hamstring may disrupt your daily routine, but with time and professional help, it can be overcome. Physical therapy offers a structured and effective path to recovery, addressing the root causes of the strain and guiding you toward renewed resilience. If you have experienced a hamstring strain, consider scheduling a consultation with one of Rehab United’s physical therapists. With guidance and commitment, you can bounce back even better than before.


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Emily McGuire is a Marketing Associate and staff writer for Rehab United. With a Bachelor's degree in International Business from UC San Diego, she is a California native with a passion for writing, digital marketing, health, and wellness.

Medically Reviewed by: Arturo Valle, PT, DPT, FAFS, CSCS, STMT-1, BFR-1, CCI, is a Physical Therapist, Clinic Director of Rehab United in Escondido, and Director of Rehab United’s Quality Assurance Program. As a graduate of USC’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, Dr. Valle has always emphasized the implementation of Evidence-Based Practice into all plans of care. Throughout his 12 years of experience, Dr. Valle has treated thousands of orthopedic-related and sports injuries and mentored countless Physical Therapists and Students of Physical Therapy.

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