by Keila Chaliotis, Staff Writer
Sometimes it´s hard to avoid some kind of injury while working out or playing a sport, especially if you are new at it and don’t look for guidance. It is important to follow the rules and steps to any kind of new workout to avoid an injury. That´s why I always recommend you look for professional help, before you start any routine or make sure you are well informed. If you have an injury, you will have an idea of what to do, or who to call for help. There are many injuries out there. Today, I will focus on a hamstring injury. Sounds painful, doesn’t it? Well, all injuries will cause you some kind of discomfort and some kind of pain. The important thing is to know what to do if you have one, and what to do to feel better and recover from it. Unfortunately they are very common and painful and don’t discriminate. We can all have an injury. It can strike anyone while running, skating, playing soccer or just exercising.
For those who don’t know what hamstring is; it is a group of three muscles at the back of your thigh. They are in charge of allowing you to bend your leg at the knee.
A hamstring injury can be caused by many reasons; lack of warming up and stretching before exercising; tight and weak hamstring muscles; or a pull or strain when you do exercises that involve a lot of running, jumping or exercises that include stopping and starting. Also if you are a teenager and are going through a growth spurt.
During this kind of injury you might tear your muscle and feel mild pain or agonizing pain, which makes it hard or in some cases impossible to walk or even stand up. You can also experience pain on the thigh and lower buttock, the leg, or when bending over.
If you do experience a hamstring strain, make sure you look for a doctor and he or she will help you answer specific questions and will give you the right checkup. This is important especially on hardcore injuries. Minor or moderate strains usually heal on their own, it is just a matter of time for it to heal and you can be up to speed and go back to your daily routine.
To make sure you speed the healing you can: Ice your leg and rest it, so you can reduce the pain and swelling. You can do this for at least 20 minutes, every two or three hours, for a couple of days, until you see the pain go away.
If the injury doesn’t allow you to walk normally a physician might recommend you to use crutches, which will be uncomfortable for you at the beginning, but will help you move with more distress and faster than trying to jump up and down with one foot, putting yourself at risk of falling and hurting even yourself even more. So pick the crutches if needed!
During the night or when resting, try elevating your leg on a pillow or a couple of pillows. It is important you feel comfortable. Use an elastic bandage around your leg if needed to help also the swelling.
You might even have to take some anti-inflammatory painkillers, which you can buy at the counter or depending on what your physician recommends some stronger ones. Remember they all should be used for a short period of time, unless recommended otherwise by your doctor. It is also important you try stretching and strengthening exercises if your doctor recommends them.
You can try some of the following exercises:
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Try to keep your knees straight and slowly move your hands forward up your legs trying to reach your feet. Extend as far as you can, and curl your feet towards you, so you can increase the stretch. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds. Repeat two or three times.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Here you extend your left foot a few inches in front of your right foot and your left toes pointed. Bend your right knee slowly and pull your abdominals gently inward and lean your hips forward, and rest both palms on top of your right thigh for balance and support. Hold for 20-30 seconds, and repeat two to three times.
Try to keep your shoulders down and relaxed; continue stretching with the right leg after.
Some other exercises you can try are walking lunges. All you need to do is go forward from a standing position into a lunge with one leg, and try to go down almost to the floor before going back to the same direction to a standing position. You can even add weight, to increase resistance and muscle strengthening.
There are many other exercises you can try to help you heal. The important thing is to do them and improve your health so you can go back to those exercises you love doing that help you keep active, healthy and in shape. Just be careful, and follow instructions to prevent any major injuries.