A Short Guide to Hamstring Tears and Strains

Learn about your hamstring tear and recovery timelines

Hamstring muscle tears are a very common lower limb injury, impacting all different types of people and sports. Oftentimes, injury is due to a stretch mechanism, a contraction mechanism or a combination.

A classification system has been used to determine where the injury is and the extent of the injury. I always recommend seeing a health professional to assess and evaluate an injury.

As per the British Athletics Muscle Injury Classification system, muscle tears can occur on a scale of 1-4 and within three areas: myofascial, musculotendinous or intra-tendious (see the image below). This gives clinicians and patients a better understanding of the injury type, the rehab needed and the healing timeframe(1).

hamstring tear grading system

Without MRI, a clinician cannot be 100% positive on the diagnosis, but can still determine a treatment pathway. Measures that are used in clinic to determine injury type and progression through rehab include: loss of range of motion, tension/contraction ability, pain, bruising, swelling, the mechanism (how it happened), the sound/feeling at the time of the injury, previous injury and type of sport(2).

This is general information regarding hamstring tears, and I recommend seeing a healthcare professional for a diagnosis

A hamstring tear, also known as a hamstring strain, is a common sports injury that involves the tearing or stretching of the muscles and tendons in the back of the thigh. A tear in these muscles can range from mild to severe and is often categorized into three grades:

  1. Grade 1: Mild strain, with minimal tearing of muscle fibers.
  2. Grade 2: Moderate strain, involving a more significant tear of muscle fibers.
  3. Grade 3: Severe strain, where the muscle is often completely ruptured.

You may have experienced some of these symptoms from a hamstring tear:

  • pain
  • swelling
  • bruising
  • weakness
  • limited range of motion in the affected leg
  • you may have trouble walking
  • you may have fell down after the injury if it was severe

    I always recommend seeing a physiotherapist to diagnose your injury.

Treatment timeframe for a hamstring tear injury

Treatment will differ depending on the injury and severity. Healing timeframe for a hamstring tear can be anywhere from one week (mild injury) to 6 months (for a more severe injury).

Example of a healing timeframe for a grade 3 hamstring tear

Did you just injure your hamstring or have you been dealing with hamstring pain for a while? These exercises might be the best to help you recover from your hamstring injury.

General recovery guidelines – however, this is not specific to a graded hamstring tear injury:

  • range of motion of the hamstring
  • squats and step ups within tolerance
  • isometrics within tolerance
  • normalizing walking
  • double leg exercises, progress to single leg when able
  • resistance through range of the hamstring as tolerated
  • weighted squats and single leg squats as tolerated, glute bridges, calf raises and maintaining strength in the hip
  • hinge movement patterns starting double leg and progressing to single leg
  • lengthening as tolerated
  • Weighted deadlift and hinge position exercises
  • Hamstring bridges through range and weighted isometric holds
  • Re-introducing plyometrics and running relevant to the patient and sport goals
  • Progressing back to full deadlifts, RDLs, hip thrusts, kettlebell swings
  • Including variations and modifications of nordic hamstring curls, razor curls, harop curls, all to tolerance of the patient
  • build up to full speed sprinting through a gradual and phased running and sprinting introduction program
  • Increasing rate of force development through weighted exercises like RDL drop catch, hamstring bridge switches and hamstring tantrums
  • Inner range hamstring strength
  • Cutting, change of direction, unplanned movements and sport specific training
Progressions of hamstring bridge exercises from easy to difficult
Multiple Hamstring recovery videos, a mix of difficult and easy progressions.
Contact me with more questions about your hamstring injury, or download the hamstring Rehab Program to be taken through step by step rehab and recovery for your hamstring tear.
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