It's been three months since I pulled my hamstring while working extra hard on my flexibility in hot yoga. I've done physical therapy every week. But even though it's now healed, I feel pain as soon as I try to dance. Why can't I get over this?
—Meghan, New York, NY
Dealing with a lingering injury is tough. In general, there are two main types of hamstring pulls. One is due to overstretching, like yours. This injury tends to take many months to heal fully because you've partially torn a tendon high up in the thigh. The other type is a muscle tear lower down the hamstring that's caused by a sudden, quick acceleration—like a jump—and takes roughly four to eight weeks of recovery. Why is the time period between the two so different? Healing depends on blood flow, and muscles have better circulation than tendons.
While I'm sure you've been told to avoid stretching until your hamstring has healed, it's nearly impossible to dance without moving through a wide range of motion. Perhaps you need more time in therapy, or maybe your hamstring pull is more serious than it seemed. Only you and your doctor can tell for sure, and it may require an MRI to confirm.
In the future, be aware of activities that could lead to overstretching, such as hot yoga. Stretching for 30-second intervals throughout the day is a more effective way to improve flexibility.
Send your questions to Dr. Linda Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org.