Because the hamstring is so essential to lower body motion, hamstring pulls are both common and often quite painful. Depending on the severity, you will experience various symptoms, many of which are outlined below.
Common symptoms of a strained hamstring include:
- sudden, sharp pain at the back of the upper leg during exercise – most usually felt during sprinting or bursts of speed and potentially accompanied by a “popping” feeling.
- a spasm or stiffness in the back, upper leg, especially felt when stretching.
- swelling and tenderness
- bruising in the hamstring (indicates blood vessels have been broken)
- overall weakness in the hamstrings
- gap or irregularity in the muscle (if the tear is severe or the hamstring muscle has ruptured)
There are numerous possible causes of a pulled hamstring, however, let’s take a look at some of the most common culprits:
- lack of flexibility in the hamstring and/or lower back
- poor hamstring strength
- strength imbalance between the hamstrings and the quadriceps
- being overtired or not warming up prior to stressful activity
- overstretching the hamstrings
- sudden stress upon hamstrings, which can be caused by impact from another person, or more commonly by over-pushing off of the ground to accelerate.
Additionally, you are at risk for a hamstring strain if you are tired and not moving properly, training in cold weather, or if you’ve had a previously damaged your hamstring.