Hamstring injuries are categorised in 3 Groups, Phases or Grades. I usually refer to them as either a Phase I, II or III but they can also be referred to as a Grade I, II, III.
Whatever specialist you go and see whether general practitioner, physiotherapist or sports massage therapist, they will all have a slightly different perspective on the type of Phase your injury is categorised in. And in most cases the distinction isn’t clear cut so you could be Phase I/II.
People often say they have, “pulled their hamstring”. This is actually referred to as a hamstring strain. Simply put, a usual cause is an explosive movement that the body was not properly prepared for which has caused a tear in the hamstring muscle fibres. The fibres are stretched beyond their level of capability and the end result is often a microscopic tear, which feels anything but microscopic!
For a quick and simple self analysis ask yourself question, 'Can I walk a normal stride without any pain or lose of posture?'.
If yes, but you feel it pulling, then probably a Phase I.
If no, it causes some pain and you limp a little, so losing your posture, it will fall into Phase I/II or Phase II.
If you can't put weight on it, it's a Phase II or a III.
This is only a very simple guide and not a self diagnosis. If you fall into a Phase II injury you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
These will vary greatly from individual to individual and dependent on the Phase of injury. It can include:
RICE or ERIC Principle 1st Aid - Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation
Anti-inflammatories – to reduce further swelling, however best under the guidance of a physician and if not contraidicitive
A rest period of reduced activity dependant on severity
A period of light stretches performed 2 – 3 times per day
Gentle massage to increase blood flow to and away from the area and break up bruising
Thorough warm up, light exercise, cool down and gentle post stretch
Introduction of MSE exercises to build muscle back up and reverse any muscle shrinkage or atrophy
More intense massage such as sports massage to help with healing and alleviate fibrosis (build up of scar tissue)
Stabilisation exercises especially around, hip, knee and core
Increase in exercise intensity utilising backward jogging with great attention paid to pre warm up and post stretches
Return to forward running and normal exercise at low intensity, followed by gradual increase.