If you are a runner, then you'll more than likely to have experienced tight hamstrings, or even suffered a muscle strain which has put you out for weeks. The Hamstrings consist of three muscles, which mostly originate from your sitting bone, and insert just below the knee. When you run, your hamstrings contract to extend your hips and bend your knee. Interestingly, you are more likely to strain your hamstrings when your foot strikes the ground. This is due to the sudden load applied to the muscles when in a lengthened position.
Hamstring strains tend to affect sprinters rather than long distance runners due to the high load put through them. However, distance runners are more likely to develop chronic hamstring tightness from microtears and develop subsequent scar tissue. It is important to consider factors such as stride length, hip strength and stability, and footwear, which can all feed into reasons why the injury occurred in the first place. Depending on the extent of the muscle strain, complete rest may not be the best advice. Light exercise helps to promote blood flow to the injured muscles which is important for healing, but it is always best to seek professional advice if this is appropriate for you.
Prevention is always better than cure, so employ a regular flexibility routine, make sure you incorporate some eccentric strength exercises into your resistance programme, and give yourself enough rest to recover between training sessions.
Treatment should be guided by your trusted health professional, and incorporate hands-on therapy, home-based rehabilitation, and cross-training. Should your injury surpass eight-weeks with little change, then a referral should be considered to a sport and exercise consultant who can take a different approach to your injury.