Hamstring Injury: Nutrition for Fast Recovery

March 9, 2023

Hamstring Injury: Nutrition for Fast Recovery

Have you ever suffered from a hamstring injury?

Did you know…. it is thought to be one of the most frequent injuries experienced by athletes?

If you have ever experienced a hamstring injury, you will know how painful it can be…and if severe enough, it can take you away from your run training for quite some time.

So, the aim of this discussion, is to ensure that by the end of the episode you feel more informed on signs and symptoms to observe for and what to do nutritionally and around training if any “niggles” are experienced.

So, we……

    1. Give an overview of the mechanisms and risk factors associated with Hamstring Injuries
    2. Outline some exercises and training considerations to help prevent and speed up recovery from injury
    3. Discuss nutrition to help prevent and speed up recovery from a hamstring injury

Our Sponsors For This Show

A big thank you to our Show Sponsor Runners Health Hub

Please use COUPON CODE HUB to get 33% discount on Easy Nutrition for Healthy Runners Programme


Hamstring Injury: Nutrition for Fast Recovery


What are the hamstrings?

The word “Hamstring” relates to both tendons and muscle:

The Hamstring tendons are strong bands of tissue situated at the back of the thighs that attach the large thigh muscle to the bone

The commonly known Hamstrings refers to a group of 3 muscles that run along the back of the thigh, from the hip to just below the knee

What causes a hamstring injury?

The most common hamstring injury is defined as a stretch-type injury to one (or more) of the hamstring muscles and is generally caused by extensive hip flexion with an extended knee.

It is thought that most hamstring injuries occur during sprinting due to excessive muscle strain caused by eccentric contraction during the late swing phase of the running gait cycle”


What are the risk factors for the development of a hamstring injury?

There are many potential risk factors when considering the potential for one to occur. These risks include:

Being a sprinter – most injuries occur during speed running

Previous hamstring injury – especially if a runner has returned to training BEFORE the injury has healed completely

Tired muscles or weak muscles – either the hamstrings themselves or potentially as the result of weak/lazy glutes

Poor flexibility of hamstrings and overstriding – may lead to over stretching during speed running

Age – risk of injury increases with age

Inadequate warm-up before exercise and lack of stretching following exercise are known to be contributing factors

Lower back pain and sacroiliac-joint dysfunction – the sacroiliac joint being the joint that links the pelvis and lower spine

Running posture – forward leaning runners are more at risk of developing a hamstring injury

Foot strike patterns – heal strikers rather than forefoot runners are thought to be at increased risk

Stress and anxiety – have also been shown to increase the risk of any running injury occurring

A pro-inflammatory diet – may influence the development of a hamstring injury due to chronic low-grade inflammation



See Below


A focus on exercise and training considerations to help prevent and speed-up recovery from a hamstring injury

Prevention is always better than cure with all aspects of health and sporting injuries are no less important when considering good health. There are many ways to potentially limit the development of a hamstring injury including:

  • Warm up and warm/cool down and stretch REGULALRY!!
  • Foam rolling REGULARLY
  • Strength training – increasing muscle strength is known to reduce the risk of injury occurring
  • Observe for potential signs and symptoms (S/S) of a hamstring injury developing and then taking action IMMEDIATELY

The presenting S/S will depend on the severity of the injury but may include:

  • Sudden and sharp pain in the back of the thigh
  • Possibly a popping or tearing sensation
  • Swelling and tenderness over the affected area
  • Bruising or change in skin colour along the back of the leg
  • Muscle weakness
  • Inability to weight bear


Defining Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy

This injury is thought to be is quite rare besides a hamstring muscle injury and the typical symptoms differ significantly from a hamstring muscle injury.

The principal symptoms for this type of injury include:

  • Gradual onset and increase of pain in the back of the upper thigh
  • The pain can be felt deep into the buttock area
  • Pain can extend down the back of the thigh to the knee
  • Increasing pain when sitting for any length of time. For example: working at a desk and long distance driving

What can you do to manage a hamstring injury?

  • On experiencing an injury it is very important to STOP RUNNING and seek professional support and advice. For example, from a physiotherapist
  • If the injury is not severe then stretching, foam rolling and strength training (which are proposed for injury prevention) may be recommended
  • Yoga, specifically Restorative Yoga for Runners could also be supportive. We recommend emyoga.co.uk
  • Sports massage
  • Trigger point needling


What is RICE Therapy?

The acronym RICE stands for: REST – ICE – COMPRESSION – ELEVATION and may be helpful in the first 2-3 days following an injury to help manage the swelling and inflammation. It involves:

REST – rest the leg as much as possible

ICE – apply cold packs (a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel will also work) to the hamstring for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours during the day. Do not apply ice directly to your skin

COMPRESSION – compress or bandage the thigh to limit any swelling and movement that could cause further damage. A simple elastic bandage or elasticated tubular bandage could be used. These would be freely available from a pharmacy

ELEVATION – keep the leg raised and supported on a pillow as much as possible, to help reduce any swelling


A “Food First” approach to prevention and care of a hamstring injury

Eating “real food” containing targeted nutrients to support injury healing is the primary approach we use here at Runners Health Hub, but this does not mean we use a ”Food Only” approach, it would depend on the individual and the severity of the injury.

Key nutrients to consider for hamstring injury healing include:

Protein – to minimize muscle atrophy, to promote muscle repair

Omega 3 Fatty Acids – to enhance the healing process

Vitamin D – to maximise muscle regeneration

Vitamin C and E – potent antioxidant nutrients and free radical scavengers (free radicals being unstable molecules released as a result of inflammation and known to increase the magnitude of muscle damage)

Polyphenols – plant-based phytonutrients having antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties. They are known to speed up recovery time as well as reduce the extent of muscle damage from injury

Female Factors

Hamstring Injury: Nutrition for Fast Recovery

  1. Females are known to have a lower risk of hamstring injuries than males. This is thought to be related to oestrogen-induced muscle stiffness, in other words, optimal oestrogen has been reported to contribute to a decrease in muscle stiffness and to increase muscle strength.
  2. Age would be another factor because as we know, oestrogen levels drop at menopause, therefore increasing a female’s risk of developing a hamstring injury…or indeed, any muscular injury.


Hamstring Injury: Nutrition for Fast Recovery


    1. Just to remind you that…most hamstring injuries occur during speed running and most likely occur due to excessive muscle strain caused by eccentric muscle contraction during the late swing phase of the running gait cycle
    2. There are many risk factors for a hamstring injury occurring including: running style (For example: posture, heel striker), age, tired/weak muscles, chronic hormone imbalance and a pro-inflammatory diet
    3. Females are known to have a lower risk of hamstring injuries than males due to the influence of oestrogen, however the risk increases at menopause
    4. A runner could limit their risk of developing a hamstring injury by warming up/cooling down appropriately, foam rolling and stretching CONSISTENTLY as well as including strength training
    5. If you were to develop a hamstring injury then we recommend you stop running immediately and consult with a qualified musculoskeletal practitioner BUT…Immediate action you could take yourself would be to Introduce RICE therapy for the first 2 or 3 days. REST, ICE, COMPRESSION, ELEVATION
    6. Finally, when thinking of nutrition to help prevent and/or promote healing from a hamstring injury…remember the FOOD FIRST approach and include the key nutrients: protein, omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin C and E and polyphenols found in plant-based foods

Related Episodes:


The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.

Remember we are available to support you if required contact us at hello@ runnershealthhub.com

If you’ve enjoyed our Hamstring Injury: Nutrition for Fast Recovery article, click here to find more blog posts.

You can also find out more on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.