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Rehabilitation Exercises for Hamstring Strain

Understanding Hamstring Strain and the Road to Recovery

Hamstring strains are painful setbacks that limit mobility and daily activities. Proper rehabilitation is crucial for recovery, including stretches and exercises. Here we will explore methods for hamstring injury recovery, providing descriptions of stretches and exercises. Stretches that improve flexibility and strengthen the hamstrings will be covered as they are advised to prevent hamstring injuries. 

What are hamstring rehabilitation exercises?

Hamstring rehabilitation exercises encompass a range of movements to facilitate healing and rebuilding strength. They commonly involve stretching exercises like standing, supine, and seated hamstring stretches to improve flexibility. Strengthening exercises such as hamstring curls, bridges, and single-leg deadlifts target the muscles to restore strength and stability. 

Stretching Exercises for Hamstring Recovery:

Now that we know the importance of hamstring recovery, let's look at a few. These exercises aim to elongate the hamstring muscles, encompass static and dynamic stretching movements, and gently loosen them.

Standing Hamstring Stretch

Stand upright and extend one leg in front to perform a standing hamstring stretch. Lean forward from the hips, reaching your toes while keeping the leg straight. 

Precautions: avoiding bouncing or jerking movements, maintaining proper balance, and not overstretching to the point of pain or discomfort.

Seated Hamstring Stretch

To do a seated hamstring stretch, sit on the edge of a chair with one leg extended. Lean forward from the hips, reaching for your toes while keeping your back straight. 

Precautions: Avoid rounding your back; perform the stretch in a controlled manner.

Hamstring swings

To perform hamstring swings, stand with feet hip-width apart. Swing one leg forward and backward, gradually increasing the range of motion. 

Precautions: Start with small swings and gradually increase the intensity, maintain good balance, and avoid excessive momentum or jerking movements to prevent strain or loss of balance.

Standing Toe Touches

To do Standing Toe Touches, stand with feet shoulder-width apart, slowly bend forward from the hips, and reach towards your toes. 

Precautions: Keep your knees slightly bent, avoid jerking motions, and don't force the stretch beyond your comfort zone. If you have back problems, consult a healthcare professional before attempting this exercise.

Lying Hamstring Crossover Stretch

To perform a lying hamstring crossover stretch, lie on your back and extend one leg upward. Use your opposite hand to pull the leg across your body gently. 

Precautions: Avoid excessive pulling or twisting, relax, and don't push into pain or discomfort. Stop if you feel any sharp or intense pain.

Hamstring strengthening exercises

Along with loosening the muscle group, it is also advised to strengthen them as it reduces the strain put on them. Here are a few exercises that can be done to do the same:

Hamstring Curls with Resistance Band

To do hamstring curls with a resistance band, secure the band around your ankles, stand tall, and slowly bend one knee, bringing your heel toward your buttocks. 

Isometric hamstrings

To perform isometric hamstring exercises, sit on the edge of a chair and contract the hamstring muscles by pressing the back of the thigh into the chair. Hold for a few seconds and release. 

Standing hamstring curl

Stand tall and balance yourself with a chair or wall if needed to do standing hamstring curls. Bend one knee, bringing your heel toward your buttocks, then slowly lower it. 

Glute Bridge with Leg Curl

To do a glute bridge with leg curl, lie on your back with knees bent, lift your hips off the ground, and flex one knee while keeping the foot flat. Extend the leg back out and repeat on the other side. 

Swiss Ball Hamstring Curl

To perform a Swiss ball hamstring curl, lie on your back with your feet resting on a Swiss ball. Lift your hips off the ground and roll the ball towards your buttocks by bending your knees. 

Strengthening the Calf Muscles:

Strengthening your calf muscles can be beneficial when dealing with a hamstring strain due to the interconnectedness of the lower body muscles. 

Calf Raises

To perform calf raises, stand with feet hip-width apart, rise onto your toes, and lift your heels as high as possible. Lower back down and repeat. 

Calf Stretch on a Staircase

To do a calf stretch on a staircase, stand on a step with the balls of your feet on the edge and heels hanging off. Lower your heels down, feeling a stretch in the calves. 

Calf Presses on Leg Press Machine

To perform calf presses on a leg press machine, sit on the machine with feet on the platform. Push the platform with the balls of your feet, extending your ankles and contracting your calf muscles. 

Seated Calf Raises

To perform seated calf raises:

  1. Sit on a chair with feet flat on the ground and knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Lift your heels off the floor, raising onto the balls of your feet.
  3. Lower down and repeat. 

Plyometric and Sport Exercises:

When you end your physiotherapy program, your physiotherapist will likely assign a few high-intensity jumping exercises, a.k.a plyometric exercises. Let's look at how to do a few of them and the precautions you might take.

Jump Squats

To perform jump squats, start with feet shoulder-width apart, lower into a squat position, then explosively jump up, extending your arms overhead. Land softly with knees bent and immediately go into the next repetition. 

Box Jumps

To perform box jumps, stand facing a sturdy box or platform. Bend your knees, swing your arms, and explosively jump onto the box, landing with both feet. Step or jump back down and repeat. 

Lateral Bounds

To perform lateral bounds:

  1. Start standing with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Leap laterally to the side, landing softly on the opposite leg while swinging your arms for momentum.
  3. Immediately leap back to the starting side. 

Agility Ladder Drills

To perform agility ladder drills:

  1. Lay out an agility ladder on the ground.
  2. Start at one end and step quickly, one foot at a time, into each square or rung of the ladder.
  3. Vary your footwork with patterns like high knees, lateral shuffles, or crossover steps.

Improving Balance and Proprioception:

As part of your hamstring strain rehabilitation program, your physical therapist may include exercises to improve your balance and proprioception. Insufficient balance and instability can cause your hamstrings and other leg muscles to exert additional effort during activities like running or jumping, potentially resulting in excessive strain and injury.

Single-Leg Balance

Stand on one leg to perform single-leg balance exercises while maintaining a stable posture. Keep your core engaged and gaze fixed on a focal point—progress by adding challenges like closing your eyes or performing dynamic movements while balancing.

Stability Ball Single-Leg Deadlifts

Stand on one leg with the stability ball in front of you to perform stability ball single-leg deadlifts. Hinge forward at the hips, extending your free leg backward, and lower the ball towards the ground. Return to the starting position using your glutes and hamstrings.

Standing Knee Raises

To perform standing knee raises:

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Lift one knee towards your chest, keeping your core engaged and maintaining balance.
  3. Slowly lower the leg back down and repeat on the other side.
  4. Focus on controlled movements and maintaining stability throughout.

Yoga Tree Pose

To perform a yoga tree pose:

  1. Start standing with feet together.
  2. Shift your weight onto one leg and bring the sole of the opposite foot to the inner thigh or calf of the standing leg.
  3. Balance and bring your hands to the prayer position at your chest.
  4. Hold and breathe, then switch sides.

A Word From Physiotattva

Physiotherapy interventions and exercises play a crucial role in hamstring rehabilitation. They address imbalances, improve flexibility, and strengthen the hamstring muscles. By promoting proper healing and preventing future injuries, physiotherapy service aids in a speedy recovery. If you would ever like to experience effective hamstring rehabilitation, come to Physiotattva! Book your appointment for the most comprehensive care and recovery. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I start doing these exercises immediately after a hamstring injury?

It is best to consult a healthcare professional or physiotherapist before starting any exercises after a hamstring injury.

How do you rehab a pulled hamstring fast?

Rehabilitating a pulled hamstring quickly involves:

  • A combination of rest.
  • Appropriate exercises.
  • Proper stretching.
  • Gradual progression under the guidance of a healthcare professional or physiotherapist.

How long does it take to rehab a hamstring injury?

The duration of rehab for a hamstring injury varies depending on the severity of the injury but can typically take several weeks to months for complete recovery.

What does a physio do for a pulled hamstring?

A physiotherapist may provide treatments such as manual therapy, exercises, and stretches to rehabilitate a pulled hamstring properly.

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