Complete Balance Physiotherapy

Hamstring Muscle Strain

What is it?

A tear of the muscle fibers at the back of the thigh

How does it feel?

When a hamstring is strained you feel a sudden pain or “grabbing” or “tearing” sensation at the back of the thigh. With a low grade strain you may be able to continue running but as the muscle cools down pain may increase as bleeding and swelling around the injured muscle continues. The muscle then tends to become stiff and tight. In more severe strains you will be unable to continue running due to pain and tightness in the muscle. You may walk with a limp.

What should you do?

The first 24-48hrs is important in the management of this injury. Follow the RICE regime (Rest Ice Compression Elevation). This will help reduce bleeding within the injured area and thereby control the amount of swelling which will assist in the recovery process.

Rest the leg. Avoid standing for long periods.

Ice 15-20 mins then remove for one hour applying compression. Continue this cycle for the remainder of the day. Alternatively use the GAME READY which will simultaneously apply cold and compression. These machines can remain on continuously.

Compression: use compression bandage initially. This can be reduced to a tubigrip after 24-48 hours. Sleep with tubigrip on.

Elevate the leg where possible. Avoid standing for long periods especially on the day/ night of the injury.

What NOT to do

  • Do NOT drink alcohol as this will increase bleeding and swelling and delay your recovery.
  • Avoid hot showers or baths as this will also increase bleeding.
  • Deep tissue massage is not indicated as this can also increase bleeding in the first 12-24 hours.


The physiotherapist and rehab physio will put a rehab plan in place for you. Depending on the severity of this injury it will usually commence within the first 48 hours of injury.