Picture this: You’re rolling out of bed the morning after a long run at your favorite trails. And as you step down, you instantly feel pain and stiffness radiating from the back of your leg. Your hamstrings are sore. But what can you do besides rest and icing? Can a therapeutic massage help you find relief?
In short, yes — massage for hamstring pain can help you break up the tension in your muscles, tendons, and other soft tissue. In turn, this can help you ease pain and start feeling your best again. Read on to discover three of the best at-home hamstring massage techniques to try today.
What Causes Hamstring Pain?
Before you start massaging your aching legs, it’s essential to identify the source of your pain. Pain in the hamstrings can sometimes happen from simple overuse, but it can also show up as a result of:
- Poor form during exercise
- Injuries from certain sports, like sprinting, soccer, or football
- Muscular imbalances or weak muscles
- Poor flexibility
Is Massage Good for Hamstring Injury or Pain?
In many cases, yes. Massage can bring a boost of blood flow and relaxation to your tight hamstring muscles, and science shows it may offer pain-relieving benefits. Researchers don’t know the exact mechanisms behind massage’s ability to ease pain, but one theory is that it does this through the body’s relaxation response, or by closing “the pain gate.”
It’s important to note that if your hamstring is in the acute stage of an injury (like with a pull or a sprain), it’s best to refrain from massaging it until it’s had some time to heal.
If you have any concerns, check in with your doctor, proceed with caution, and avoid intense pressure in the meantime.
Try These Massage Techniques to Feel Better
Here are a few soothing ways to massage your hamstrings at home:
1. Simple Self-Massage Routine
If you don’t have any massage equipment on hand, don’t stress. One of the most accessible ways to use massage for hamstring pain is to simply rub it away with self-massage.
Here are the steps:
- Sit or lay in a comfortable position where you can reach your hamstrings. One way to do this is to sit on the edge of a chair and reach around your thigh. Otherwise, you can lay on your back and lift your leg in the air.
- Using light pressure, start with a Swedish massage technique on your hamstrings. This means using long, slow, gentle strokes, which can help you relax the muscles and prepare them for deeper work.
- Then, use medium pressure to knead across your hamstrings, from side to side. This is called cross-friction massage, and it can help you work further into the muscle fibers.
- Finish with a light kneading technique, rubbing away the pain in whichever ways feel good for you.
- Repeat for 5 to 15 minutes.
2. Using a Foam Roller
A foam roller is a powerful home massage tool used for self-myofascial release. It can help you work out tension in the fascia (aka the connective tissue around your muscles), as well as the hamstrings themselves.
Here’s a simple way to use a foam roller for hamstring pain:
- Grab a roller like the Rollvibe Mini.
- Sit on the ground and place the roller at the base of your hamstrings, near your glute.
- Cross your opposite leg over the leg that you’ll be massaging. This added weight can increase pressure for a deeper massage.
- Lift yourself off the ground with your hands. Then, move your body forward and backward with your leg resting on the roller. This motion allows you to massage your hamstrings using a “rolling” technique.
- Repeat for 1 to 2 minutes. You can also turn your foot outward and inward to better reach each muscle.
3. Using a Home Massager for Hamstrings
When it comes to massage for hamstring pain, handheld tools like the MedMassager MMB05 provide a convenient, effortless way to get relief at home.
If you’ve got a device like this on hand, here’s a simple way to use it on your hamstrings:
- Start in a standing position. When using a handheld massager, this is typically the easiest way to reach behind your body.
- Turn your massage device on to a low setting. Then, run it gently over your hamstrings.
- Increase the pressure as needed, pausing to work deeply into any specific areas of discomfort.
- Use for 5 to 15 minutes per session. Repeat this up to several times per day, or until you feel relief.
Other Ways to Relieve Sore Hamstring Muscles
On top of self-massage, you might be wondering if there are any other ways to relieve sore hamstrings. Fortunately, there are. Here are two more at-home remedies that can help you ease some of that bothersome pain:
There are many different hamstring stretches you can try, but a seated hamstring stretch (or seated toe touch) is the easiest. This stretch can help you increase flexibility in several areas, from your legs to your lower back.
First, sit on the ground with your legs extended. Then, bend one leg inward so the bottom of your foot is resting against your opposite thigh.
Lean forward and reach out for your toes. (It’s okay if you can’t reach them all the way — just lean until you feel a stretch.) Hold this pose for 10 to 30 seconds.
Ice, Elevation, and Rest
If your pain levels are significant, your best bet is to temporarily avoid massage and talk with a healthcare provider. They may recommend you follow the R.I.C.E. method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) to promote healing.
In the case of strains or other injuries, this can help you keep your inflammation to a minimum and give your muscles the time they need to recover fully.
The Takeaway on Massage for Hamstring Pain
Sore hamstrings are all too familiar to runners, sprinters, and other athletes — but because they’re some of our busiest muscles, anyone can wake up with hamstring pain on occasion.
Self-massage with your hands is an easy, accessible way to find relief. But to make things a little more effortless, you can use a home massage unit like the MedMassager MMB05, which uses oscillating technology to mimic the motions of a massage therapist’s hands.
View MedMassager’s full range of home massage units today, or learn more about how to use a massager for hamstring pain here.