3 Phases Of Healing Hamstring Injuries

  1. Rest during the inflammation phase (72 hours).
  2. Align during the repair phase (6 weeks).
  3. Strengthen and lengthen during the remodeling phase (up to a year or more).

•Stage 1: Rest. For 72 hours after the initial injury, the student should rest the area completely. This gives the body time to remove damaged tissue and bring in cells that will produce new capillaries and collagen. The student should not attempt any stretching or strengthening activities and should not apply heat. To prevent excessive inflammation and swelling, apply ice (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off) as often as is practical, compress the upper thigh just below the sitting bone (using an elastic sleeve), and elevate the pelvis above the heart.

 

 •Stage 2: Align. Over the next six weeks, very gently align the newly forming connective tissue fibers. Do this by gradually introducing modified asanas that provide micro-strengthening actions with the hamstring muscles in the neutral, slightly shortened, and slightly lengthened positions. These asanas should apply just enough tension at just the right angle to induce the healing tendon to grow strong and flexible in the desired direction. Practice with subtlety. Do not perform the asanas too vigorously or stretch too far, because this can damage the delicate molecular/cellular matrix being created. If pain increases during this stage, back off and start over with Stage 1.

 

•Stage 3: Strengthen and Lengthen. Over the next year or more, very gradually strengthen, then stretch the injured hamstring tendon. As in Stage 2, practice asanas that contract the hamstrings against resistance in the neutral, shortened, and lengthened positions. Start out where Stage 2 left off, then gradually increase the load and length demands on the muscles and tendons. Done properly, this systematically adds high-quality, correctly aligned collagen fibers to the injured area. Back off if pain increases. One of the key benefits of this program is that it strengthens the hamstrings not only while short, but also while in progressively longer positions, for several months before introducing full stretching postures.

Thank you to Iyengar teacher Roger Cole for this information.

Roger Cole, Ph.D. is an Iyengar-certified yoga teacher and Stanford-trained scientist. He specializes in human anatomy and in the physiology of relaxation, sleep, and biological rhythms.

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