Sports Massage Techniques for Hamstrings

Sports massage is an important part of rehabilitation from muscle injury, especially hamstring strains. Regular massage can also help identiy weak spots and help prevent injury before it happens.

Massage for Hamstring Strains

Massage has many benefits but specifically for hamstring strains it can help loosen scar tissue and tight muscles, stimulate blood flow and therefore healing and aid in the stretching of the muscles.

Massage should not be done in the acute stage as this may increase bleeding and prolong the healing process.

Massage for Injury Prevention

Sports massage is excellent for helping to prevent hamstring strains. It keeps the muscle in good condition and a massage therapist may identify tight knots and lumps in the muscle which if left may be a weak point of future injury.

Massage for tight hamstrings

Tight hamstrings need stretching, but massage can also help stretching the muscles sideways or transversely which cannot be done by simple stretching. In addition increasing blood flow and relaxing muscles will help them stretch more easily.

The following sports massage guide is intended for information purposes only. We recommend seeking professional advice before attempting any self help treatment.

Before attempting massage your therapist will check for contraindications. This means that massage would be dangerous to perform if you have any contraindications.

Technique 1: Effleurage

Aim - light stroking to warm up the area in preparation for deeper techniques.

  • To perform effleurage, the massage therapist will stroke lightly but firmly upwards from just above the back of the knee to the top of the hamstring muscles.
  • All massage techniques should stroke upwards towards the heart as this is the direction of blood flow. The other way can damage veins.
  • The hands then move lightly down the outside of the leg staying in contact, without applying pressure.
  • The whole movement is repeated using slow stroking techniques, covering as much of the leg as possible.
  • This technique is usually used for about 5, with the pressure applied become gradually deeper on the upward strokes.

Technique 2: Petrissage

Aim - kneading movements to manipulate and loosen the muscle fibres more. There are a number of different types or methods of petrissage massage techniques. A couple of simple ones are described below:

  • With the hands apply a firm, kneading technique. Try to pull half the muscle towards you with the fingers of one hand whilst pushing half the muscle away with the thumb of the other hand (image 3).
  • Then reverse to manipulate the muscle in the other direction.
  • Work your way up and down the muscle, trying to cover as much of the surface as possible.
  • Apply this technique for around 5 minutes, alternating with light stroking (above) occasionally.
  • Another slight variation on this and a very commonly used technique is a circular kneading action.

Technique 3: Stripping the muscle

Aim - to apply sustained pressure to the muscle, ironing out any lumps, bumps and knots.

  • With the thumb of the right hand (for the left leg), apply deep sustained pressure along the full length of the muscle (image 4).
  • This technique should be slow and deliberate to 'feel' the muscle underneath.
  • Repeat this 3 to 5 times in a row, alternating with petrissage for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • This technique can be applied to the whole muscle group with the forearm (image 5).

Technique 4: Circular frictions

  • If the therapist comes across and tight, tender knots in the muscle (usually at the point of strain or rupture), these can be worked out with deep circular frictions to the knot (image 6).
  • Massage should be deep but not so deep that the athlete tightens up with pain.