Treatment of Chronic Hamstring Strains

Chiropractic treatment of chronic hamstring strains is something that active people or athletes may experience to a greater degree than others. While there is often some expectation of pain or discomfort in sports as athletes push their bodies to their limits, there are times when pushing past the pain can increase the risk of further damage that may sideline them for much longer than if they had sought help from an experienced chiropractor at the onset of pain.

Hamstring Strains

At the back of the thigh stretching from the hip to the knee is a set of skeletal muscles known as hamstring muscles. These assist us with basic activities such as walking, sitting, and climbing stairs that we generally do multiple times every day without a second thought. We use them with most leg movements.

However, an active individual or one that is heavily involved in sports or athletics may use these muscles more than what the average person does. Over time and without sufficient warmups or stretches, it may result in chronic hamstring strains.

In particular, athletes in the following sports may be at a higher risk of injury to the hamstring because of the way they move during participation:

  • Basketball
  • Biking
  • Cross country running
  • Dancing
  • Football
  • Jogging
  • Rowing
  • Skating
  • Skiing
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Track

These sports activities may be a cause for a hamstring strain because of the stopping, starting, and change in direction performed when using these muscles. However, there are three risks that may make a person more susceptible to hamstring strains, such as:

  1. Age. If an athlete is still growing, the hamstring may be vulnerable if overused. Conversely, individuals aged forty or older may also have a greater chance of experiencing hamstring problems due to daily wear and tear.
  2. Previous injury to the hamstring. If a hamstring has been injured before, the chances of it being injured again (especially in cases where it was not allowed to heal properly the first time) can increase.
  3. State of the hamstring. Most professional athletes swear by stretching and warming up before beginning their workouts because it helps to loosen up muscles like those of the hamstring. A hamstring that is tight could be at a greater risk of injury.

What Does a Hamstring Strain Feel Like?

A hamstring strain may feel slightly different from individual to individual based on a number of different factors including age, method of injury, and existence of previous hamstring injuries. The most common symptoms of a hamstring strain can be:

  • Bruising
  • Discomfort or pain in the back of the thigh and lower buttock during normal leg movements
  • Pain (typically during exercise)
  • Sensation of popping or snapping
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Trouble standing and/or walking

How Is a Hamstring Strain Classified?

At its most basic level, a hamstring strain generally happens because the muscle fibers are simply overstretched. All strains are not necessarily the same and can have different levels of severity.

  • Mild. A mild hamstring strain may have a person feeling swelling in that area, which may be accompanied by minor muscle pain, but it usually does not prohibit them from using the leg.
  • Intermediate. The next step up can be an intermediate strain in which the muscles may actually tear in part. This typically causes increased levels of pain and swelling from that seen in mild cases. The leg may still be functional, but not without substantial pain.
  • Severe. Perhaps the most severe form of a hamstring strain may be when the muscle tissue is completely separated from the bone or tendon by a tear. In the worst of cases, it may even be possible for part of the bone to be separated. This type of situation may very well prohibit the use of the leg until treatment and healing can take place.
  • Chronic. A chronic hamstring strain usually takes the shape of a mild or intermediate strain that happens without ever really fully healing, which leaves it vulnerable to re-injury and possibly to a more serious degree. In this situation, chiropractic treatment of chronic hamstring strains is often needed.

Chiropractic Treatment of Chronic Hamstring Strains

The person experiencing ongoing pain or injury may be recommended to seek chiropractic treatment of chronic hamstring strains. For a person who has never been to a chiropractor before, it is important to note that most of these professionals do not treat patients surgically or with pain medication. Instead, a combination of manipulation, massage, or physical therapy may be suggested as a path toward healing.

People with chronic hamstring strains should be aware that the healing process can be challenging simply because a chronic situation has allowed for repeated re-injury, which can decrease the hamstring’s responsiveness to treatment. Full or partial recoveries from chiropractic treatment of chronic hamstring strains may stretch up to as long as six months and can include the following directives:

  • Resting the hamstring. For athletes, this may require stepping away from a sport for a few months to let the sprain heal completely. However, it may still be possible for an athlete to remain physically fit during that time by committing to an exercise that does not involve the hamstring.
  • Rotating between heat and ice. Switch between these two temperatures multiple times a day. Heat can vasodilate blood vessels and draw in fluid to loosen scar tissue and relax the muscle. The application of ice can decrease inflammation. A Kingwood chiropractor may recommend practices such as heating pads, ice packs, baths, and even massages.
  • Stretching. Regular stretching will be essential for a fuller recovery and may include repetition of several different movements, such as lying on the back with a knee pulled up to the chest or a hurdler stretch while sitting on the ground.
  • Doing strengthening exercises. These exercises should include both concentric, which brings the heel toward the buttocks, and eccentric, which is similar to resistance in the opposite of a concentric strengthening exercise.

Should a person also have experienced additional pain and muscle issues that have gone unchecked and are now leading to conditions such as low back pain, the sooner care can be sought from a reputable Kingwood chiropractor, the better the chances of a faster healing and recovery.

Working through hamstring pain can be a costly mistake no dedicated athlete wants to make. Chiropractic treatment of chronic hamstring strains is a course of treatment athletes should pay heed to, and in a timely manner to minimize time away from enjoying the sport they love.