Hamstring Massage – Treatment for tight muscles and pain

Hamstring muscle tightness is generally due to a number of factors including overuse, lifestyle (particularly if you sit down a lot), and the wrong kind of stretching & strengthening. Here at Beyond, we have a number of techniques that we use to treat this, including massage, stretching, myofascial release, rehabilitation exercises, and even dry needling. Massage in particular is very effective at increasing blood flow to the hamstring muscles. This makes it easier for your body to remove metabolic waste products from these muscles, meaning less pain and better recovery.

Our practitioners not only use treatment techniques to help aid recovery but are skilled in assessment to help diagnose why you may have tight and painful hamstrings.

The hamstring muscles include the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. These muscles originate from a common tendon that attaches to the ‘boney’ bit under your bottom called the ischial tuberosity. The hamstring muscles are located at the back of the thigh, extending down to behind your knee to support your knee joint with its main functions including flexion and extension of your leg.  If you have persistent hamstring tightness, pain, and discomfort “shin splints”, “runner’s knee” or an acute hamstring strain, you may need a gentle, early intervention physiotherapy massage session to help reduce the pain and speed up the recovery process.

Have you tried using a spikey ball to release muscle tension in your hamstrings?

Who needs a hamstring massage?

Are you an athlete? How many times have you watched a game of football and seen a sports trainer on the sidelines oiling up an athlete’s hamstrings with their elbows and hands? We see a lot of hamstring massage happening during sporting events. This can help flush lactic acid out of muscles by promoting blood and lymphatic flow. Ultimately hamstring massage is used in this instance to help performance and reduce potential injury.

We find the sports that involve explosive and dynamic movements such as tennis, football, netball, rugby, hockey, and athletics may benefit from a sports massage. Whilst more research needs to be done on the psychological and physiological benefits of sports massage and the frequency of which it is used, athletes certainly report they feel good after a massage. There has been some evidence to suggest it helps with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)

If you are not an athlete doesn’t mean you don’t need a hamstring massage! Often when people suffer from lower back pain they may have tight and or weak hamstring muscles. As part of your overall management for your lower back pain, a hamstring massage may be indicated to help start your rehabilitation program and improve flexibility and mobility. If you have lower back pain you may like to read this resource that delves into the common causes of lower back pain.

Is massage the best treatment for a hamstring tear or tendinopathy?

Hamstrings can be injured in two major ways, tears & strains or tendinopathies. A hamstring strain/tear usually presents as acute pain experienced during exercise such as sprinting or kicking. Pain can range from tenderness to severe pain with loss of strength, range of motion, and inability to use that limb. There can also be swelling and bruising in the area and you may hear a popping sound at the time of injury. 

Hamstring tears are classified as Grade 1-3. This ranges from only a few muscle fibers being torn to complete rupture of the muscle that may require surgery. Your symptoms following injury, combined with assessment by one of our practitioners can help identify injury grade.

Tendinopathy pain will be aggravated by exercise (but will often ease as you warm up), stretching, and prolonged sitting. There are several risk factors for these injuries including inappropriate changes to training load or genetic factors, hormones, or autoimmune disease.

In both cases, stand along hamstring massage is not the recommended treatment protocol. Hamstring massage may make up part of the treatment plan but usually, it will involve a spectrum of techniques and rehabilitation protocols to get the best outcome.

Why is a hamstring massage beneficial?

Hamstring massage may be beneficial on many levels. With hands-on therapy, you can identify any muscular imbalance such as a difference in the size of the muscle bulk. This can be good information when forming a rehabilitation plan for your patient. 

Deep tissue massage has been linked with increased flexibility of the hamstring. Coupled with dynamic stretching or static stretching and a proper strengthening program we can see an improvement in the function of the hamstring. 

Massage has a positive effect on blood flow to the area and lymphatic drainage. Therefore it can help flush the muscle of metabolic waste such as lactic acid. This can help reduce your DOMS effect which often occurs after you have increased or changed your exercise load.

Some people love the idea of lying down and having an hour to themselves having a massage. A massage is a common tool in people’s well-being plan for relaxation. Massage has been shown that sometimes there is an immediate reduction in anxiety following a massage. So even if you are just having a hamstring soft tissue massage you may be gaining some positive psychological benefits from this treatment. 

Improving hamstring flexibility and preventing injury with massage

There is no direct link that any one thing can prevent hamstring injury. For every research paper proving one thing, there is another paper disproving it. 

Looking biomechanically at the function of the hamstring it has a big impact on the pelvis, lumbar spine, and knees. You could hypothesis by keeping the hamstrings flexible via massage and other rehabilitation exercises it may reduce the chance of lower back and pelvic injury. Whilst this makes sense biomechanically we must look at each person individually, their environment, the load their hamstrings undergo, genetics, co-morbidities that may impact the hamstring. Whilst massage may improve flexibility it is not the one-stop-shop for preventing injury but may be used as a tool in a complete plan to help someone reduce injury.

Stretches to loosen tight hamstrings

Working out if you have tight or weak hamstrings is really important! Overstretching your hamstrings may be the wrong thing for you, in fact, it may make your injury worse. Before you try these exercises why not talk to your health care practitioner about the best plan to help with your tight hamstrings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it good to stretch a pulled hamstring?

No. We do not encourage stretching of pulled muscles. Depending on the severity we may prescribe strengthening exercises to help to heal. 

Can your massage therapist stretch your fascia?

Yes! Fascia is connective tissue that provides structure throughout the body, around organs, nerves, muscles etc. When we stretch we are always affecting the fascia. 

Does sitting cause tight hamstrings?

Yes! It may cause tight hamstrings, especially if you are in a poor chair for prolonged periods.

How do you treat proximal hamstring tendinopathy?

A really good strengthening program! If there is no success sometimes shockwave therapy can help.

How should I sleep with a sore hamstring?

If you sleep on your back, try a pillow under your knees, if you are on your side bend your knees and place a pillow between them. We never recommend sleeping on your stomach.

What Does a Hamstring Strain Feel Like?

A hamstring strain feels like a deep pulling in the back of the thigh. You may feel this when you bend over, getting up from sitting, walking, or running. 

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