On November 2, 2016, NBA star Jeremy Lin suffered a hamstring strain (also known as a grade 1 tear) in his left leg. He was sidelined until December 26, when he returned to action against the Charlotte Hornets.
During that game, Lin had to leave due to a strain in a different part of his left hamstring. With hamstring strains back in the news, we thought it would be a good time to discuss how they are treated.
Risk factors for a hamstring strain
Before we talk about your treatment options for a hamstring strain, let's quickly look at the risk factors. Hamstring strains (or tears) can happen to anyone, but you are at greater risk if any of the following applies to you:
- You have suffered a previous hamstring injury (as Jeremy Lin had)
- You lack flexibility
- You do not warm-up properly prior to physical activity
- You do not properly hydrate
Treatment of a hamstring strain
Treatment for a hamstring strain (grade 1 tear) will typically include 3 phases:
- Phase 1: Inflammatory phase. During the inflammatory phase, you should protect your hamstring by avoiding excessive stretching and other kinds of physical activity. Typically, cold therapy and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are used to manage your pain and inflammation.
- Phase 2: Reparative phase. During the reparative phase, your goal is to regain full range of motion; but you need to continue to avoid excessive stretching. As tolerated, you can slowly build up to more challenging exercises.
- Phase 3: Remodeling phase. During the remodeling phase, activity-specific exercises are typically prescribed to help you return to your level of function prior to your injury. These may include quick movement and change of direction drills, such as plyometric exercises.
How fast you progress through each stage is dependent in part on the extent of your hamstring strain. Currently, there is no set timetable for the return of Jeremy Lin.