A Story About Hamstring Strain
by Dustin Bledsoe
Pulled Muscle Rehabilitation Part 1 of 2
Late February, I was deadlifting (465lbsx3) when I felt a pull in my left hamstring at the top of the second rep. I felt an instant “cramp” like feeling in my left hamstring after my right foot slipped a little at the top. I pull with a sumo technique, which is widely seen in the powerlifting world and incorporates a stance with your feet outside your hands.
The pain and stiffness increased as the day moved along and I went to bed knowing it would be worse the next day. The next morning, I could hardly move my left leg or bend over without a lot of pain and had 10% of the normal range of motion.
With a meet coming up I didn’t have the time to stop training but I couldn’t afford to further injure myself, a common issue amongst those of us working out.
So what should be the plan if you suffer a mild-to-moderate pulled muscle?
The doctors at Pathways Wellness recommended the following regimen.
For muscle strains (aka pulled muscle), they recommended keeping the muscle moving and working as much as possible without making the pain worse. It maximizes blood flow, prevents tissue shortening, and dramatically improves recovery time. Therefore, I started my rehabilitation a couple hours after I woke up the very next day.
Here’s a the regimen I followed and can be used as a reference sheet for anyone at the gym which includes 3 different areas of treatment:
1. Home Exercises
I did these exercises for 50 reps each, 3 times per day: squats to couch, lying leg curls, supine hip thrusts, good mornings, and sumo deadlifts. Afterwards, I would wrap my thigh with an ace bandage in order to help prevent any further swelling.
I took certain supplements to decrease the inflammation and promote the healing process. I am not a huge supplement advocate and only take a few on a regular basis. But, I feel that they can be of use after an injury to get me back in the gym faster. The supplements I took daily included:
- Fish Oil- 4.5g of EPA/DHA
- Vitamin D3- 1500 IU
- Turmeric/Ginger/Boswelia- 2 pills
- Magnesium- 400 mg
3. Manual Therapy
On Monday, Dr. Farrah performed light Graston Technique on my hamstring to promote the healing process and prevent the formation of any adhesions in the muscle. He then used Rock Tape on my hamstring in order to enhance blood flow, reduce the chance of swelling, and decrease pain so that I could lift later in the week.
That Tuesday and Thursday I was able to do squats with minimal pain. I used about 70-75% of my one rep max. I find that you need to get the muscle under a load as soon as you can as long as you can use full range of motion with the exercise and the pain does not get worse
The next week I returned to full lifting other than doing deadlifts. That week, less than 2 weeks from the strain, I squatted 335x3 with a three second pause each rep, front squatted 245x5, box squat 325x5 without a belt, and squatted 365x5 with a belt. Other than some minor tightness at the bottom of the squat, I had no other symptoms. At the end of the week, Dr. Farrah performed Graston Technique again on the hamstring to help loosen it up and bit.