Hamstring injuries are a common concern for athletes and are the number one thing that can take an athlete out of commission. This is precisely what took Chris McKenzie, DPT, physical therapist and owner of McKenzie Sports Physical Therapy, out of running and dashed his dreams of going to the Olympics. 

“One of the main reasons hamstring injuries happen is because of ill preparation, focusing on too much quad strengthening and not enough time stretching and lengthening the hamstrings and hip flexors and building eccentric strength,” said McKenzie.

The hamstring muscles are located at the back of the thigh and are responsible for bending the knee and extending the hip. These muscles are used extensively during activities that involve running, jumping, and sudden changes in direction. When these muscles are stretched beyond their capacity or are subjected to sudden and excessive force, they can become strained or torn, leading to a hamstring injury. Since these muscles are frequently used in athletic activities, hamstring injuries are the number one injury that takes out athletes across all sports.

If you have a hamstring injury, physical therapy can effectively manage the pain, promote healing, and prevent further injury. Physical therapy can be helpful for both acute and chronic hamstring injuries and can help you regain strength, flexibility, and function. Chris warns, however, that choosing a physical therapist who understands how to rehabilitate hamstring injuries is critical. For Chris, a lack of understanding of the underlying cause of his injury by his then-Athletic Trainer left his hamstring issue unresolved, causing it to come back during college. 

“I decided to become a physical therapist and started McKenzie Sports Physical Therapy because I didn’t want anyone’s athletic dreams to be crushed from something fixable and likely preventable,” said McKenzie.

The first step in physical therapy for hamstring injuries is to assess the severity of the injury and develop a personalized treatment plan. This plan may include a combination of exercises, stretches, and other therapies designed to reduce pain, increase range of motion, and promote healing.

Massage therapy is one of the most effective physical therapy treatments for hamstring injuries. Massage can help to increase blood flow to the affected area, reduce inflammation, and promote healing. 

Strengthening exercises are another crucial component of physical therapy for hamstring injuries, specifically “eccentric strength training.” Your physical therapist will develop a strengthening program that targets the specific muscles affected by your injury. Strengthening exercises can help to improve muscle function, reduce pain, and prevent future injury.

In addition to massage, stretching, and strengthening exercises, your physical therapist may also recommend other therapies, such as heat or ice therapy, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound therapy. These therapies can help reduce pain, improve circulation, and promote healing.

If you are suffering from a hamstring injury, physical therapy can effectively manage your pain, promote healing, and prevent further injury. With the help of a skilled physical therapist, like those at McKenzie Sports Physical Therapy, you can develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your needs and goals. Don’t let a hamstring injury keep you out of the game – contact a physical therapist today to learn how they can help you get back to your normal activities.