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Self Care – Seizing Hamstring

Avoid these perpetuating activities:

If possible, discontinue running and walks on uneven ground for a short while until the muscle has been relieved and the hip is stabilized. Cycling and stair climber machines are particularly aggravating. For clients that run competitively, they generally need the patch below before heading out for a run and the stretching/tennis ball exercise afterward. If there is no time for that, they can get relief by stretching under a hot shower.

Clients that cannot avoid pain during the long drives will keep a tennis ball in the car to roll on during driving. This is consistent as a successful strategy. They often seek more legroom to stretch the hamstring which pulls the hips forward in the seat and actually makes it worse. Keep your hips back in the seat and use the tennis ball or the topical patch listed below.

3/4 face down sleeping position

Avoid sleeping on your side. This presses into the trigger point with moderate pressure, which activates the pattern. Once that happens, it is difficult to get out of pain without getting up and moving around for a while.

If you cannot sleep on your back, this three-quarter face down position works when the front corner of the hip is on the mattress.

For temporary relief:

Referral pattern of the Gluteus Minimus

Mid-sized IcyHot patches work well in the short term. Place the patch so that it lays under the crest of your hip. Make sure to cover the green spot in the illustration. You can also put a patch directly on the hamstring, but most people get better relief and feel less fatigued when they put one on their hip.

Test this to see how effective it is for you before you rely on it to drive to Miami.

For longer-lasting relief.

The tennis ball treatment for glutes can be very effective in releasing this trigger point. Focus on using the ball just above the femur head. I show how to activate this trigger point in this video. Take note of how I’m tilted toward the side when I activate this trigger point. A ball allows me to be more specific than foam roller does.

If you aggravate this trigger point with the tennis ball, stretch it under a hot shower. Plant your foot and push your hip out to the side and into the stream of hot water to stretch it.

Ice is also a good idea afterward. Place it so that you cover the big green spot in the illustration and the edge of the sacrum. That will help to compress and take inflammation out of the sacroiliac joint.

pigeon from theyogaposes.com

Pigeon does a good job of opening those anterolateral gluteal muscles. This yoga practitioner gets the hip of her back leg close to the mat to open up the TFL and anterior bellies of gluteus minimus and gluteus medius. Go for getting that hip down by extending the hip, instead of arching the low back.

The folded front leg locks the hip to make this more intense than Bridges, Upward Dog or Cobra. You can use those poses to start, if this is too intense on your hip.

variation of a supine twist by YogaJournal.com

This supine twist can target this trigger point when the legs are a little straighter. Slide the foot on the floor away from the hip to find the best angle for targeting the pull through the hip.

In most cases, you should really see a Neuromuscular therapist or some other bodyworker who specializes in pelvic balancing.

Once the gluteal trigger points are released, they will not perpetuate the seizing hamstring. Many yoga sites feature this same stretch. The hamstring can be released with this AIS hamstring stretch.

Guidelines for AIS

Here are a few tips for this stretch:

  • Keeping the other leg flat on the floor stops flexion of the hip from the low back and focuses the stretch on the hamstring.
  • Let the toe point. This stops the soleus from pulling the hamstring tight.
  • This stretch is most effective when the knee is straight at the end of the stretch.
  • Turning the toe out with the strap around the outside of the ankle targets the lateral hamstring.

This illustration shows a good range of motion for most people. Athletes may need to extend the hamstring further. Ice-and-Stretch makes this easier and faster.

Does another Self-Care post
better match your pain?

Here is the post about the trigger point pattern associated with these Self-Care activities.

Check these posts on the hip, thigh, and calf to see if there is one that better fits you.

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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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*This site is undergoing major changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and will include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there may be inconsistencies in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.