Since hamstrings are responsible for bending the knee and extending the hip backwards, it is no wonder that athletes often experience hamstring trauma. Athletes who sprint and jump--football players and runners, for example--are especially susceptible to suffering from torn (otherwise known as “pulled” or “strained”) hamstrings. The symptoms of a strained hamstring vary, depending upon the severity of the strain.
How It Happens
When a hamstring receives a blow during a sprinting session, it may become strained or torn. It is also possible to strain a hamstring muscle if it becomes overstretched or tightens beyond its capacity. Particularly at risk for tearing a hamstring are: people with muscle fatigue, people who do not warm up adequately before exerting the hamstrings, people with a prior hamstring injury, people with tight or weak hamstring muscles, and people who exhibit poor running form.
A person with a hamstring tear will experience a sudden and sharp pain radiating in the back of his leg. The affected muscles will begin to spasm, and a bit of swelling and bruising may appear. According to Men's Health online, hamstring tears are graded on a scale of one to three depending on how severe they are.
Grade One Hamstring Strain
A grade one hamstring strain consists of minor tears in the muscle. A person with a grade one strain may experience tightness in the back of the thigh and a little bit of swelling. He will likely be able to walk as normal but with a small amount of discomfort. If he is lying face down and attempts to bend his knee against a resistant surface, he will likely not experience much pain.
Grade Two Hamstring Strain
A grade two strain is a partial tear of the hamstring muscle. A person with a grade two strain will likely notice pain when pressing in on the hamstring area. He also may experience swelling as well as sharp and painful twinges during physical activity. Bending his knee against a resistant surface may cause him pain, he may have trouble straightening his knee, and he may have a limp when he walks.
Grade Three Hamstring Strain
A grade three hamstring strain is a severe or complete tear in the hamstring muscle. A person with a grade three strain will most likely experience massive amounts of pain and swelling as soon as he becomes injured. An extreme rupture may even cause the feeling of a gap in the hamstring muscle. He will need to walk with crutches and will need to rehabilitate for at least three weeks before he can expect to resume normal physical activities
A person who believes he has a torn hamstring muscle should seek assistance from a medical professional as soon as possible. In the mean time, he should rest, elevate and ice the affected area. He should expect to be out for some time but with proper rehabilitation should be able to continue his regular routine.