(2) Quick Self-Tests to Tell if You have Trigger Points in Your Hamstrings:
Follow the instructions below to test whether myfoscial trigger points in your Hamstrings might be causing your back of the knee, thigh or buttock pain:TEST 1: Standing Toe Touch
Stand with your knees straight and your feet no more than shoulder width apart. Bend forward at the waist and attempt to touch your toes with your finger tips. STOP
at the point you feel any pain or discomfort in your low back, thighs or legs. A Passing
result is when you can touch the tips of your fingers to your toes without any pain. A Failing
result occurs you cannot reach your toes without pain. If you like, you can have someone measure the distance away from the floor as a way of keeping track of your progress over time.
TEST 2: Hamstring Palpation
As always, palpation (the medical term for pressing, feeling and squeezing to evaluate body tissue) is often the most effective test to identify myofascial trigger points in your Hamstring muscles.
One way the Hamstrings can be palpated is by bending your knee up toward your chest and pressing with your finger tips into the bands of muscle behind your thigh. The hamstrings are ropy muscles, especially on the inner thigh (Semitendinosus and Semimembranosus), so it may be best to pinch the muscle between your thumb and fingers (pincer technique). On the outer thigh (Biceps Femoris), the pincer technique may not work as well as finger tips. Press gently to tolerance and cover the entire span of the muscle shown by the x's. Feel for taut bands of muscle tissue and notice if any pain or other symptoms increase.
Simple Self-Care Remedies
Here are simple self-care tips for relieving myofascial pain and dysfunction in your Hamstrings:
Step 1: Warming Up with Moist Heat
To relax and warm up the fibers of the Hamstrings, soak in a warm bath or place moist heat such as a Fomentek bag under or over the back of your thighs for 10-15 minutes.
Step 2: Compression
The best tools for compressing trigger points in the Hamstrings are theFoam Roller
and the Jacknobber
Leaning either up against a couch/chair or against a wall, place your self-care tool underneath the hamstrings, starting at the sit bones right beneath the buttocks. Slide/Roll the tool down the back of the thigh, searching for tender spots and tight bands of muscle in the Hamstrings.
When you find a tender spot, press into the muscle to pain tolerance ("good pain" - not pain that is sharp or makes you want to withdraw). Hold for 10 seconds while completing at least two full breaths in and out. Then continue searching for more trigger points.
Step 3: Doorway Stretch for the Hamstrings
To stretch your Hamstrings, lie on your back in a doorway with one leg up against the wall and the other leg flat (or slightly bent) on the floor through the doorway (as shown). You can use a strap or jump rope to keep the leg steady. Move as close to the doorway as possible without straining your hamstring.
If you can scoot all the way to the doorway, you can use your strap to pull the foot off the wall for a deeper stretch. Breathe and relax, stretching a little more with each exhalation. Perform this stretch 2-3 times per day. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then let the leg down to rest for 10 seconds.Here is a self-care video for the Hamstrings. You can watch the first couple of minutes to get some additional ideas of ways to improve the function of these muscles.
Perpetuating Factors: CHAIR SEAT VICTIMS
One of the major perpetuating factors that causes trigger points to return in the Hamstrings is being compressed by the edge of your chair seat
Many of us have to sit in chairs for long periods of time. Unfortunately, chairs tend be about the same height regardless of how short or tall we may be. For those of us under 6 feet tall, this often results in the edge of our chair seats pressing into the back of our thighs when we are sitting. The prolonged compression cuts off nerve and blood flow and activates trigger points in the Hamstrings.
The solution is a simple change in ergonomics. If you must sit, check to make sure your fingers can slide easily between your chair seat edge and your thighs
. If you cannot, then the chair seat is compressing your hamstrings. Use a foot rest, preferably an angled one, so that the back of your thighs lift off the edge of your chair seat at rest (as shown).
A Standing Desk
is also very helpful. It helps to alternately raise one leg (as shown). Or you can also bend the front knee slightly and stretch the other leg back to get a good hamstring stretch.