Overview on a hamstring strain

A hamstring strain is a prevalent injury to the leg that involves a tear in one or several hamstring muscles. The injury can range from minor to severe involving a full tear of the muscle.

What are the causes?

The usual causes for a hamstring strain can be categorized as primary or secondary.


There is lack of rigidity and eccentric strength in the hamstring muscles during the phase of ground contact when running. If the individual had a previous strain, it is an indication of a potential injury in the future.


A mild case of strain can be felt as tightness or low-grade ache in the hamstring.


  • Poor running mechanics – this involves overly striding or poor pelvis control which places the hamstrings in a susceptible position at ground contact
  • Incorrect warm-up – the warm-up phase should be dynamic and active to prepare the hamstring muscles.
  • Inappropriate training load – high-speed activity must be performed early in the workout, close to warm-up as possible to prevent fatigue. The hamstrings are mainly fast twitch fibers that rapidly tire.
  • Lower back issues – irregularities of the lumbar spine or poor pelvic control can lead to nerve dysfunction and succeeding muscular weakness that increases the risk for injury
  • Fatigue
  • Playing surfaces – slippery or wet surfaces places more strain on the hamstring due to slipping.

What are the indications?

A mild case of strain can be felt as tightness or low-grade ache in the hamstring. As for severe cases, it can be quite painful that it is impossible to walk or even stand.

Other symptoms that might arise include:

  • Abrupt and intense pain during physical activity along with a popping or snapping sensation
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness of the muscle
  • Discomfort in the rear part of the thigh and lower buttock while walking, bending over or straightening the leg

Management of a hamstring strain

Many individuals with a hamstring strain generally feel better in a few days after the injury. Nevertheless, there is a high rate of re-injury if the rehabilitation process was not strictly followed.

Professional guidance is recommended for a precise diagnosis and the best chance of avoiding any repeated injuries to the hamstring muscle.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on a hamstring strain is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage this form of strain, register for a first aid and CPR course with Kelowna First Aid.