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Navigating Hamstring Strains: A Comprehensive Guide to Physiotherapy

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, 4 min read

Navigating Hamstring Strains: A Comprehensive Guide to Physiotherapy

Hamstring strains, a strain of your thigh muscle,  can be a painful setback for many individuals. Whether you're an athlete or someone with an active lifestyle, understanding how physiotherapy can play a pivotal role in this hamstring thigh muscle recovery following injury is essential. In this blog post, we'll delve into the nuances of hamstring strains, and why hamstring rehabilitation is important to ensure full recovery. 

Understanding Hamstring Strains

Hamstring strains occur when the muscles at the back of the thigh are either overstretched or overloaded. This often happens during activities that involve sudden starts, stops, or changes in direction. Athletes engaging in sports like football or sprinting are particularly susceptible. The severity of a hamstring strain can range from mild to severe, impacting daily activities and overall quality of life.

Physiotherapy Intervention

Physiotherapy is a cornerstone in the management of hamstring strains. According to NHS guidelines, a physiotherapist can help guide someone through their recovery, and provide advice and appropriate exercises to strengthen and mobilize the affected muscles, promoting a gradual return to normal function. They employ a multifaceted approach, incorporating techniques such as manual therapy, and progressive exercise programs to optimize recovery.

Read more: What is MSK Physiotherapy?

Signs and Symptoms

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a hamstring strain is crucial for timely intervention. Common indicators include sharp pain or tearing sensation at the back of the thigh, swelling, bruising and difficulty walking or straightening the leg. If you experience persistent pain, it's essential to consult a physiotherapist promptly.

Man in pain with hamstring muscles with a highlighted area of strain

What should I do to treat a hamstring strain

In the first 24-48 hours follow the PEACE & LOVE principle for recovery management immediately after injury. (This replaces previously known RICE)

  • P=Protect and avoid activities and movements that cause pain in the first 24-48 hours
  • E=Elevate the limb as often as possible above the level of the heart to help with swelling.
  • A= Avoid anti-inflammatories in the first 24-48 hours as this may delay soft tissue healing.
  • C= Compression to the area using an elasticated bandage like a tubigrip can help with swelling
  • E= Education- seek advice where needed, and avoid unnecessary treatments in the first few days like massage or manual therapy, Allow your body time to heal naturally. 

When to Seek Urgent Help

While most hamstring strains can be managed with physiotherapy, certain scenarios warrant urgent medical attention. Seek immediate help if you experience severe pain, significant swelling or bruising, or if you're unable to bear weight on the injured leg. These could be indicative of a more severe injury that requires medical assessment.

Myth Buster

Myth: I should rest until it stops hurting then return to my sport. 

Dispelling myths surrounding hamstring strains is imperative for informed decision-making. Contrary to popular belief, rest alone may not be sufficient for recovery. Physiotherapy actively engages the affected muscles, promoting healing and preventing future injuries. It is extremely beneficial to work with a physiotherapist to develop a personalized plan rather than relying solely on rest or self-prescribed treatments.

Read more: Physiotherapy vs. Chiropractic vs. Osteopathy

Healing Time

The duration of recovery for hamstring strains varies depending on the severity of the injury. Strains are graded 1-3 according to their severity. Grade 1 is a more mild strain or muscle pull,, which may take a few days to a couple of weeks. The most severe grade 3 strain is a full muscle tear, which can take a few months to fully recover. A physiotherapist can assess you and give you realistic time scales based on your injury presentation. The right exercises and advice can significantly contribute to a speedier recovery.

eMed Physiotherapy

In the digital age, eMed physiotherapy emerges as an innovative solution, offering remote access to physiotherapy services. This approach facilitates timely assessment and advice, especially for those unable to attend in-person appointments. You can access the eMed physiotherapy service to be assessed, receive a tailored physitrack exercise programme and guidance on how to self manage your injury. 

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Navigating the complexities of hamstring strains requires a holistic approach, and physiotherapy stands at the forefront of effective management. Accessing physiotherapy after an injury like a hamstring strain helps you gain a comprehensive understanding of your condition and actively contribute to your recovery, and is a key step towards reclaiming a pain-free, active lifestyle.


The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.

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