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Hamstring tendonitis is a condition that is caused by injury or inflammation to the hamstring tendons. This can happen during an acute injury or gradually over time. Some of the risk factors for hamstring tendonitis are lifting heavy weights, advanced age, and long-distance running. Hamstring tendonitis treatment starts off with conservative treatment to allow your hamstring injuries time to heal. Then active recovery with exercise and stretching will help you get back to all the actives you enjoy.
One of the common causes of hamstring strain and tendonitis is overuse. Rest will give the hamstring muscles and tendons time to heal and recover. This requires you to stop performing the activities that caused the injury. The healing process takes time and you need to minimize physical activity to allow it to move forward. While you rest, elevate your injured leg. Elevation helps to minimize swelling and encourages the return of fluid back to the heart.
Compression support with a thigh brace or sleeve can help support your hamstring during recovery and prevent re-injury. The pressure the brace places against your soft tissues and muscles allows your muscles and tendons to relax and recover. It also serves as a gentle reminder to your brain that you have an injury and need to take it easy.
Cold therapy is a recovery aid that uses ice or cold packs applied to the injured site. In the case of hamstring tendonitis, place the cold pack or ice on the back of the thigh for 20 minutes at a time several times a day. The cold causes the blood vessels in the area to tighten, reducing blood flow which limits the amount of fluid to move through the area lessening swelling, bruising, and pain.
In addition to cold therapy, try using an anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen. These drugs also reduce swelling and pain.
On the other end of cold therapy is heat therapy. While it works completely different than cold therapy, heat allows the muscles and tissues to warm up, bringing more blood to the area which brings oxygen and nutrients. This will reduce your healing time, loosen tense muscles, and provide a sense of relaxation. Use a heating pad for 20-30 minutes at a time several times a day. Make sure to avoid heat if you have bruising or swelling, the heat will make it worse.
Alternating between hot and cold therapy is a process called contrast therapy. During this, you gain the benefit of both cold and heat by reducing inflammation, improving healing time, and minimizing swelling. You use a cold pack for a short amount of time then apply the heat source. During this process, you may find that your pain lessens and you can move more easily.
Here is a detailed description of how to perform contrast therapy.
Stretching is an important part of hamstring tendonitis treatment. Reduced flexibility is one of the risk factors for this condition so regular stretching will not only improve your range of motion it will also help prevent re-injury. In addition to stretching, strengthening exercises will correct muscle imbalances and strengthen your legs. Often times you can do these stretches and exercises in the comfort of your own home. However, some people find that they need extra guidance and need to do them during a physical therapy session.
Massage is a wonderful treatment option for hamstring tendonitis. The use of gentle pressure along the hamstring muscles and tendons will relax tension, encourage blood flow, and loosen muscle knots. You can perform self-massage with your hands or use massage tools. Another option is using a TENS unit along with massage. A TENS unit sends an electrical impulse through wires to adhesive patches that are placed along the areas where you are experiencing pain. The electrical impulse will temporarily relieve pain allowing you to perform exercises and stretches more comfortably.
Kinesiology tape is a newer type of athletic tape that doesn’t restrict movement but actually moves with the skin and muscles. The tape can stay on for long periods of time, including in the shower. Your hamstring is comprised of three muscles: biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus. The tape will run along these muscles supporting them, improving lymphatic and blood circulation, and increasing your proprioception.
Hamstring tendonitis is a condition caused by injuries to the hamstring tendons and muscles. Treatment plans start off with conservative options like rest, ice, and heat. To prevent re-injury and support your leg try using a brace or kinesiology tape. In moderate to severe cases, you should talk to your doctor to determine the best course of action to heal your hamstring safely and quickly.
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