If you are a runner or you have to do long sitting, you might sometimes feel pain in the back of your legs(thighs). This is usually due to the tightness of Hamstring muscles present in the posterior thighs.
As a therapist who deals with patients with hamstring issues on daily basis, I can assure you that soft tissue release (releasing the tender knots and cramps from muscles and underlying fascia) is the ultimate treatment of a tight muscle.
And a massage gun when used properly, can do wonders in this aspect.
So, How to use a gun properly to treat tight Hamstrings, and what are the precautions or things you should consider?
Keep reading to find out!
Causes of hamstring tightness.
A hamstring is a group of three muscles (semimembranosus, semitendinosus, and biceps femoris) on the backside of the legs with a common origin point on the ischial tuberosity.
It is a two-joint muscle that bends the knee and extends the hips.
As hips and knees are the prime joints in any movement of the lower limbs (such as walking or running), the Hamstring muscle has a pivotal role in athletics and all other movements, making it the most common fatigue point.
The key activities of the hamstrings are knee and hip flexion, knee rotation, and tibial rotation.
That’s why it’s being challenged the most during sports like running, football, tennis, and cricket, etc. Thus making it prone to injury.
Repetitive movements without appropriate resting period cause spasms in the muscles.
Overwork, Improper training, Poor posture, and sedentary lifestyle including prolonged sitting are all causes of decreased flexibility and increased tightness.
The hamstring muscle also acts as a shock absorber.
A large amount of force is absorbed to make athletic activities smooth like landing on the ground, consequently, the muscle is strained or torn.
The statistic displays the most common training injuries recorded by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) in 2019, by incident rate.
For the 2018/2019 season, the most common training injuries were of the hamstring muscle, which showed an incident rate of 0.39 per 1,000 hours trained.
When it’s best to use a Massage Gun
It’s preferred because a massage gun is effective for deep tissue massage and produces great results with only a little effort.
The percussive vibration is good for targeted releases of particular muscle knots and trigger points, pre-run activation, and recovery after a run which helps in regaining strength and flexibility.
Massage gun is beneficial for all conditions causing spasms and tightness which are mentioned above or any tightness causing the normal range to be limited.
Some other conditions of the hamstring muscle that can be improved with a massage gun are:
- Exercise-related muscle pain and soreness,
- fibromyalgia muscle pain and
- chronic pains (massage gun needs to be set at high speed and strong stimulus).
How to use a gun properly to treat tight Hamstrings
- First and foremost, choose a suitable head attachment for percussion massage guns; a big round head or a prong head would do the job.
- Adjust the neck of the gun in a way to reach the back of the thigh conveniently. Always turn on the massage gun before puting it on the target muscle.
- Glide the massage gun gently over the target area, with a uniform speed.
- Slightly bend the leg and repeat massage at trigger points with a slower pace for 1 to 2 minutes or use the sharper/ less rounded head attachment, like a bullet attachment, made specifically for this purpose keeping the pressure a little lower.
These are a few conditions for the hamstring muscles when a massage gun is not recommended.
Or muscle pull, caused by twisting or sudden movement with torn muscle fibers. The vibration may further damage the muscle, especially in the acute phase.
A stretched or torn ligament. Mechanism of injury is similar to strain, (when stretched beyond normal limits). Consult your doctor for a complete treatment plan and avoid the massage gun as it may increase the damage.
when massage gun is prohibited:
- Fascitis (plantar fascitis may be an exception but only after a doctor’s consult).
- Fractures( Don’t use on or near the fracture site because the vibrations can affect the healing process).
- DVT or varicose veins.
So, Will a Massage Gun Help Tight Hamstrings?
Well. the answer is yes. A Percussion massage gun can be used for relieving hamstring tightness, pain, or soreness.
However, you should always use any percussion massager with care, at a lower Pace, and within the limits of precautions.
In certain infectious, inflammatory, or arthritic conditions always consult your doctor first.
A massage gun can also be a better alternative to a foam roller for runners using it as an efficient warm-up and recovery tool both pre and post-run.
Dr. Sara is a certified physical therapist who has used a wide variety of massagers and massage guns on many patients. Since she loves helping people, she started writing to spread her knowledge and help others.