What is a Hamstring Pull and How Can You Prevent It?

A quick guide to the causes, symptoms and prevention of hamstring injuries

A hamstring pull or strain is an injury common among athletes and it affects a group of muscles at the back of the thigh. The injury usually occurs during exercise when the muscles are under too much stress and in some cases, the muscle might even begin to tear.

The injury varies in severity, as does the amount of pain you may feel. In some cases it is a mild pain, while in others it can be hard to stand. Signs of a hamstring pull, besides the pain, include tenderness and bruising.

Most hamstring pulls can heal without surgery and for mild strains your doctor will likely suggest rest, some ice and maybe compression. Some people take over-the-counter pain medication to ease the ache and, if your doctor suggests stretching and strength exercises, those could be helpful in the healing process. Consider cross-training that doesn’t rely as heavily on your hamstrings if you want to stay active, but see a definitely see a doctor if you think you've pulled your hamstring.

Related: Why All Athletes Should Cross-Train

How Can You Prevent Hamstring Strain?

  • Take the time to stretch after each workout
  • Start slow—don’t significantly increase the amount or intensity of exercise too quickly
  • Strengthen hamstrings through exercise
  • Stop exercising if you feel pain in your hamstring to avoid further injury

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