This week’s highlight is a muscle we have all likely realized needs some attention at one time or another: The Hamstrings.
You will find stretches for the Hamstrings in almost every school P.E. program, such as the standing toe touch and the sit and reach stretch. The reason for this prevalence is because the hamstrings are so commonly shortened from all the sitting we do, and because they affect so many joints, including our knees, hips, low back and entire spine!
However, if you’ve been reading these issues of Muscle News, you know that stretching alone is not enough to eliminate trigger points and myofascial dysfunction! Stretching often only lengthens the already loose areas of the muscle, but leaves the tight bands of trigger points still contracted and short. Treating the trigger points first with heat and compression and then stretching the full muscle is the effective method developed by President Kennedy’s physician, Dr. Janet Travell. Perhaps future P.E. classes will teach trigger point self-care techniques in addition to stretching. Wouldn’t that be great?
What are the symptoms of trigger points in the Hamstrings?
Let’s look at the referred pain pattern for the Hamstrings: Trigger points in the hamstrings cause referred pain mainly behind the knee, the back of the thigh and the buttocks. This pain is often aggravated while walking and sitting, sometimes causing shortening of our stride or even limping. Bending over can be painful and it is difficult to touch our toes. Sleeping can also be painful, especially when sleeping on our sides.
Fortunately, trigger points in the Hamstrings can be treated with simple self-care techniques. Let’s perform the following quick tests and self-care tips to identify possible trigger points and myofascial dysfunction in your Hamstrings.
*The information in this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition and does not substitute for a thorough evaluation by a medical professional. Please consult your physician to determine whether these self-care tips are appropriate for you.