A pulled or strained hamstring can put a big damper on your exercise routine. If you're trying to get back to your workout as quickly as possible, it's not a good idea to stretch it right away. You need to rest your pulled hamstring, and then you can begin to build your flexibility slowly through a daily stretching routine.
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Hamstring Strain: Exercises to Avoid
A pulled hamstring can severely reduce your ability to exercise or even walk. Strained or very sore muscles reduce your coordination and range of motion and put additional stress on your ligaments and tendons. To heal your hamstrings, your first step should be at least day or two of rest until most of the soreness dissipates. Delayed-onset muscle soreness is a common symptom of overtraining and a strong indicator that you need to take a break.
Once the soreness and tightness start to decrease, your muscles will have healed enough to begin restoring flexibility. If soreness persists for more than a few days, ask a medical professional if you have a more serious injury.
Rest for one or two days before beginning pulled hamstring stretches.
Pulled Hamstring Stretches
If your job requires you to sit for extended periods, your hamstrings are spending most of their time compressed. This decreases your flexibility and increases your chance of a strain. Rebuilding flexibility with pulled hamstring stretches can help heal your pulled muscles and prevent re-injury in the future.
Incorporating a daily stretching routine is the best remedy for a pulled hamstring, once the initial pain and soreness have subsided. Start your stretching and exercising routine very slowly after a pulled hamstring, with light resistance training and low-intensity cardio like walking.
Hamstring Injury Exercises
Several hamstring injury exercises can increase flexibility in your injured muscles. ACE Fitness recommends the supine hamstrings stretch and the modified hurdler's stretch. Do these stretches every day, and you'll see increased flexibility in your hamstrings over the course of a few weeks to a few months.
1. Supine Hamstrings Stretch
HOW TO DO IT: Start by lying flat on your back. Bend your left knee and place your foot flat on the floor, and then slowly raise your right leg straight in the air, with the sole of your foot faced toward the ceiling.
Rest your lifted leg vertically against the corner of a wall or a door jamb for stability, and then press your heel upward until your leg flattens against the wall. You should feel your hamstring stretch as your foot pulls upwards. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds and complete two to four repetitions with each leg.
2. Modified Hurdler's Stretch
HOW TO DO IT: Start by sitting on the floor with your legs straight in front of you and your toes pointed at the ceiling. Then, bend your left knee and place the sole of your left foot on the inner part of your right thigh.
While exhaling, slowly slide your hands down your right leg, keeping your head and spine aligned and straight. You'll feel a deep stretch in your right hamstring and calf. Gently hold this position without bouncing for 15 to 30 seconds, and complete two to four repetitions with each leg.
Read more: Lateral Hamstring Tendinopathy
Other Remedies for Pulled Hamstrings
Other lifestyle choices can help alleviate the soreness in your hamstrings. Massage therapy has a similar benefit, promoting blood flow to your muscles so that they can rebuild after exercise.
Additionally, keeping your workout limited to ensure you're not overtraining can prevent a pulled hamstring in the first place, keeping you on your feet for your next workout.