If you don’t stretch properly before running or playing sports, you risk hurting yourself

Q. This weekend, I was playing tennis and while running, felt a sharp pain and a pop in the back of my thigh. I had to stop playing because of the pain. I am 50 and a very competitive player. My thigh is still sore and I am limping. What should I do and how long until you think I will be back playing?

A. From how you describe your injury, I think you have injured at least one of your three hamstring muscles.

Your hamstrings help you extend your hip and flex your knee. Hamstring injuries are most common in men who do not take the time to warm up and stretch prior to competition.

Hamstring injuries are common in sports that require quick acceleration and deceleration such as tennis, soccer, football and track. A minor hamstring muscle tear may take just a few days to get better. Severe injuries with complete hamstring muscle tears can require a couple months to return to play.

I recommend you see an orthopedic surgeon to evaluate the extent of the injury. In addition to a physical exam, the doctor may get an ultrasound or MRI scan to quantitate the extent of the injury. Most hamstring injuries can be treated non-surgically with rest and a rehabilitation program.

Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to HarlanS@baptisthealth.net