Here, you will find self-care strategies for cramping and seizing hamstrings. As well these people often have pain in the back of the hip or calf. Look at this other post for more information about how people describe and create that pain.
Activities To Avoid or Change:
In the short term, discontinue exercise on uneven ground. This rest gives the muscle time to recover. In the meanwhile, focus on the stretches and activities below.
Cycling and stair climber machines are particularly aggravating, too.
For clients that run competitively, use the patch below, Before heading out for a run. Also, the tennis ball exercise is beneficial in the short term. However, if there is no time for that, they can get some relief by stretching under a hot shower.
Seated for Long Periods
My clients that cannot avoid pain during long drives will keep a tennis ball in the car to roll on during driving. Consistently, this strategy is effective in offering relief. They often seek more legroom to stretch the hamstring, which pulls the hips forward in the seat and makes it worse. Keep your hips back in the seat and use the tennis ball or the topical patch listed below.
Avoid sleeping on your side. The mattress presses into the trigger point with moderate pressure, which activates the pattern. Once it flares up, it is difficult to get out of pain. Usually, people need to get up and move around for a while.
If you cannot sleep on your back, use this three-quarter face-down position. It works when the front corner of the hip is on the mattress. I have used this position for years.
For Temporary Relief:
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 tired when they put one on their hip.
Test this to see how effective it is for you before relying on it to drive to Miami.
These self-care activities, like over-the-counter drugs, are not intended to replace appropriate medical attention. If you have concerns about these self-care activities, get help from a professional. Use these suggestions and strategies with discretion and at your own risk. See your doctor when your pain is severe, persistent, or not responding to these simple suggestions.
Stretches and Exercises for Longer-Lasting Relief:
Rolling on a Tennis Ball
The tennis ball treatment for the glutes can effectively release this cramping and seizing hamstring. Focus on using the ball just above the femur head. I show how to activate this trigger point in this video. Please 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 a 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 toward the stream of hot water to stretch it.
Calm it with Ice
Ice is also a good idea afterward. Place it to 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.
This pose does an excellent 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 the 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. However, you can use those poses to start if this is too much on your hip.
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.
Back to the Hamstring
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 further released with this AIS stretch.
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.
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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written materials and instructed classes since the mid-90s. This includes anatomy, trigger points, cranial, and neuromuscular.
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*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and include more patterns with better self-care. Meanwhile, there may be formatting, content presentation, and readability inconsistencies. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.