Muscle fatigue, injuries and certain medical conditions can cause your hamstring muscle to ache and feel sore. The hamstrings are located on the back of your thighs and, according to ShapeFit, they are responsible for flexing the leg, jumping, pedaling, walking and running. Fortunately, there are several methods for treating and healing your sore hamstrings.
The most immediate thing you can do to start the healing process is to rest your hamstrings. If the pain occurs during an activity, stop immediately to prevent more pain. Avoid physical activities for the rest of the day and elevate your legs. You can use towels, pillows or blankets to prop up your legs. Wait at least 48 hours to reengage in any physical activity, unless directed otherwise by a doctor.
Ice packs and heat packs can help reduce pain, swelling and redness. Use ice during the first 72 hours. Apply an ice pack or frozen vegetables to your hamstrings for 30 minutes every three to four hours. You can hold the ice pack in place with an elastic bandage. Baptist Memorial Health Care recommends performing an ice massage for five to 10 minutes, three times a day. Freeze water in a cup, hold the bottom of the cup and rubs the ice on your hamstrings in a slow and gentle manner.
After two to three days of cold therapy, as long as there is no redness or swelling, you can use heat therapy. Place a heating pad, hot compress or hot water bottle on your muscle for 20 minutes a session, up to three times a day. The heat will help relax and loosen your hamstrings while also reducing your pain. Warms baths also have the same effect on sore hamstrings.
Stretching can help prevent scar tissue from forming. Move very slowly into each stretch until you feel gentle and slight tension. Immediately stop if you feel any pain. Stretching is not recommended if you suspect that you have a torn or ruptured hamstring muscle. The standing hamstring stretch is a beneficial stretch. Stand upright with your legs together. Bend at the waist and reach towards the floor. Stretch until you feel a small, gentle tension and hold the stretch for up to 20 seconds.
See a Doctor
Your doctor can make the best diagnosis of your sore hamstrings. You should seek medical attention if you have a worsening of your symptoms, there is sharp or sudden pain with activity, bruising, loss of circulation, the pain lasts longer than a week or if you think you have ruptured your muscle. The doctor can develop a treatment plan that may include medication and physical therapy to help restore muscular function.
- ShapeFit: Hamstrings Exercises
- Baptist Memorial Health Care; Muscle Strains; 2006
- RunTex; Beginner's Corner -- The Care and Treatment of Sore Hamstrings; March 2009
- Medical News Today; What's Best For Sore Muscles, Heat or Cold? Apparently Both, Cold and Then Later Heat; August 2005
- MayoClinic.com; Muscle Pain -- When to See A Doctor; September 2010