There are three hamstring muscles extending from the hip joint to the knee joint. These are the semi-tendinosus, semi-membranosus and biceps femoris and form the hamstring muscle group. The function of these muscles is bending (flexing) the knee and straightening (extending) the hip. A pulled hamstring is a condition where there is a tear in the hamstring muscle present in the thigh. It is commonly seen in athletes such as hurdle jumpers, sprinters, rugby players and footballers. Massage is very beneficial in relief from the pain and promoting the recovery of the pulled hamstring.
Symptoms of Pulled Hamstring or Hamstring Strain
- Acute pain, which is sudden in nature, in the posterior region of the thigh.
- Swelling of the thigh.
- Bruising of the thigh.
- In case of a severe tear, there is a gap felt in the muscle.
Sports Massage Technique for Pulled Hamstring or Hamstring Strain
Initiating The Massage
Before starting the actual massage for hamstring strain, it is important to warm up the area to be massaged otherwise it will cause soreness. The more the area is warmed up, the deeper the massage can be done. Warm up can be done by applying a heat pack for 5 to 10 minutes; however, never, ever apply heat if the injury is acute or if there is inflammation as it will worsen the condition. The application of the heat pack should start at the gluts and end posterior to the knee.
Stretching The Area
After warm-up, the next step is to stretch the area. The patient should lie face up. Bring the injured leg up, with the knee flexed with the foot flat on the table. Next, support the patient's knee with your hand. Lift the leg up and draw the thigh close to the patient's torso as much as bearable and then hold. After a few seconds, instruct the patient to press against your hand with their knee while the leg is held firmly in place by you. Wait for 5 to 10 seconds then tell the patient to relax while you push the leg a little bit more towards the chest. This sports massage technique is great for stretching the hamstrings and releasing the tense muscles in a gentle and quick manner.
Starting The Actual Massage
After warm-up and stretching is done, deep sports massage techniques for hamstrings can be started. The patient should lie face down. Hold the ankle and flex the knee to 90 degrees. Keep the heel of your upper hand at the beginning of the femur while pressing steadily into the gluts. Move the leg towards you and away from you, i.e. back and forth while massaging the muscles slowly with the compression of your hand and femur. As you keep moving the leg, slowly move down the femur from gluts to the knee.
Using Both Hands
Place your patient's lower leg over the internal side of your outer elbow so as to facilitate in working the hamstrings using both the hands. Place each hand on both sides of the thigh. In this position, the heels of your hands can be placed on both the sides of the leg. Press them together firmly while moving up the leg. Massage a bit deeply and also apply cross-fiber friction to the hamstrings using both the thumbs by bringing them together across the leg and pulling them quickly apart with steady pressure as you work your way up the leg. Lastly, work on the muscle and up the leg with both the thumbs using substantial pressure. Start at the centre of the leg and slowly work your way out.