When Can Stretching Hurt Your Hamstrings?

When Can Stretching Hurt Your Hamstrings?

Hamstrings are a collective group of tendons and muscles that end at the knee and are responsible for supporting the knee. Stretching the hamstrings is very effective for hamstring tightness and is practiced by most athletes and dancers. 

Stretching can, however, interfere with healing strained hamstring. A hamstring injury can take several weeks to heal and stretching when your hamstring is injured can do it more harm than good.

To stretch or to not stretch?
Hamstring strains can occur during workouts and running and other physical activities if not performed carefully. Warming up and stretching before a workout is essential to prevent injuries and must not be skipped. Gentle stretching before starting a workout can accustom muscles to the rigorous activity that follows.

If you have a hamstring tear or any type of hamstring injury, stretching can aggravate it and delay healing strained hamstring. This is because unlike most physical injuries, injured hamstrings require longer rest periods to be able to perform physical activities again. If adequate rest period is not allowed, then the hamstring recovery process will not occur smoothly. Stretching while suffering from hamstring tightness or injury can worsen the condition by interfering with the natural healing process of the body.  Gentle stretching as part of rehabilitative exercises for hamstring strain should be performed only under the supervision of a trained physical therapist. Rehabilitation using exercises for hamstring strain should be started after consultation and a thorough assessment by the physical therapist to ensure there is no re-injury to your existing hamstring injury.

Measures to ease hamstring tightness
Minor hamstring strains generally heal by themselves and do not require any additional measures to be taken by you. Major hamstring strains can take several weeks to heal and additional measures must be taken by you to promote healing hamstring strain. These are some of the measures you can adopt to increase healing strained hamstring and to ease hamstring tightness.

  • Apply Ice to the site of injury for 20 minutes twice a day. This will reduce the chances of inflammation and will soothe the torn muscles of the hamstring.
  • A compression bandage can provide optimum support to the hamstring and reduce the impact of shocks that the knees experience. A compression bandage must be worn at all times when performing any sort of physical activity to prevent a re-injury.
  • It is essential to get adequate rest to allow muscles to recover without further strain to the injury. Physical activity should only be resumed with the consent of a physical therapist.
  • Keep your injured leg elevated at all times while sitting to prevent swelling and pressure due to increased blood flow to the site of injury.

​These are a few of the measures that you can take when dealing with hamstring tightness and healing strained hamstrings. Perform suitable exercises for hamstring strain only if advised by a qualified physical therapist to prevent aggravation of the existing injury.