Should I Stretch a Sore or Painful Hamstring?

At first glance, this seems like a simple question. Most injuries respond well to gentle stretching. However, if your hamstring is sore or painful, you need to find out what the injury is first. There is a big difference between stretching a hamstring that is injured or stretching a hamstring that is experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). So let’s see how you can tell the difference and the best way to proceed.

DO NOT Stretch a Seriously Injured Hamstring

If you have experienced a tendon tear, muscle tear, sprain, strain, or another traumatic hamstring injury, you do not want to start stretching it without a proper medical evaluation!

Let’s take a look at some of the symptoms of a hamstring injury, so you can tell when you need to seek medical care.

  • Sharp pain
  • Pain that is worse when you move in a way that causes the muscle to contract (walking, running, squatting, etc.)
  • Possible bruising or swelling
  • A lump could indicate that a torn muscle has rolled up
  • Pain often begins immediately after some form of trauma
  • The mechanism of the injury is usually clear (e.g., “I was running and felt something pop”)
  • Pain from an injury does not improve on its own with time

If this describes your injury, seek a medical evaluation before starting any type of care – including stretching.

DO Stretch Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

If it’s just a sore muscle and there is no traumatic injury, stretching can help improve the soreness. Here are a few indicators that the soreness is DOMS and safe to stretch.

  • Dull pain that occurs even at rest
  • Soreness or pain beings about 24 to 48 hours after a workout or other activity
  • There is no defining moment when an injury took place – the source of the soreness is unclear
  • There is no lump, bruising, or swelling
  • You have no history of trauma
  • The soreness improves over time

If you determine that you are dealing with DOMS and not an injury, you can do some gentle stretching. For example, you can lie on your back and use a door frame or strap to gently stretch your sore hamstring.

Evaluations, Rehabilitation, and Chiropractic Adjustments in Fairfax, Virginia

Ward Chiropractic & Rehabilitation can help you recover from sports injuries safely with our rehabilitation and chiropractic services. Get in touch today at 703.672.1661 to schedule an appointment, or you can request your appointment via our website.