Physical Therapy for a Hamstring Strain

physical therapy for a hamstring strain

Have you ever started a light jog and then felt confident enough to increase your speed, and then suddenly a sharp pain in the back of your thigh is preventing you from taking another step? As a former athlete, I have unfortunately dealt with a dilemma like this in the middle of basketball tryouts. I knew I could not stop and I had to fight through the pain if I wanted to make the team. I remember thinking to myself, “I thought I stretched enough before” and “I warmed up for 5 minutes, the coach said that is enough.” At the time I did not know enough about my body and how to prevent an injury like this. This blog will help gain an understanding of how to prevent a hamstring strain or what to do if you strain your hamstring. For any advice or assistance on an injury like this contact Bryant Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy located in Atwater and Merced, CA. 


What is a Hamstring?

During my injury as a young teen, I remember the athletic trainer from my school evaluating me and informed me that I had pulled my hamstring. I stared at him with a blank stare and that is when he informed me about my hamstring muscles. The hamstrings are a group of four muscles: long head of the biceps femoris, the short head of the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. Each hamstring crosses two joints, the hip, and the knee.

Hamstring Strain Physical Therapy for a Hamstring Strain


Causes of a Hamstring Strain

Common movements that cause hamstring strains include:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Cutting maneuvers
  • Sitting up too fast


Symptoms of a Hamstring Strain

  • Pain in the back of your thigh, either behind your knee, in the muscle belly, or near your buttock
  • Difficulty fully straightening your knee without pain
  • Difficulty taking large steps or walking quickly, or pain with climbing stairs.
  • Difficulty and pain with running

Physical Therapy for Hamstring Strains

When a patient first visits a physical therapist (PT) for the treatment of a hamstring strain, he or she will conduct an initial evaluation to gather information about the condition and to determine the best treatment. After that, the physical therapist will use the results of the evaluation to form a specific plan of care for the patient’s hamstring strain. He or she will also work with them to set reasonable goals for the hamstring rehab.

Treatment for a Hamstring Strain

There are many different treatments and modalities that a PT may choose to use for hamstring strains. These may include:

  • Ultrasound. 
  • Massage
  • Electrical stimulation. 
  • Kinesiology taping
  • Gait training
  • Ice
  • Heat
  • Therapeutic exercise

The most important treatment a therapist can offer is a therapeutic exercise. A physical therapist will prescribe specific exercises for patients to do in the clinic, and a home exercise program will most likely be prescribed for patients to do on a regular basis. This helps patients take control of their hamstring strain rehab. 

Exercises for a hamstring strain may include:

  • Hamstring stretches
  • Lower extremity strengthening exercises. 
  • Hip and core strengthening exercises. 
  • Agility drills including hopping and jumping.
  • Balance and proprioception exercises.

For more information or advice on hamstring strains, Contact Bryant Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy today! We are available in Merced and Atwater CA and are open for consultations. 



Chumanov ES, Heiderscheit BC, Thelen DG. The effect of speed and influence of individual muscles on hamstring mechanics during the swing phase of sprinting. J Biomech. 2007; 40(16): 3555-62.

Drezner JA. Practical management: hamstring muscle injuries. Clin J Sport Med. 2003 Jan; 13(1): 48-52.

Novacheck TF. The biomechanics of running. Gait Posture. 1998 Jan 1; 7(1): 77-95.

Magui Profile Physical Therapy for a Hamstring Strain

Created by: Margarita Perez, Director of Public Health Program Developer

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