The hamstring muscles are three muscles located in the upper leg, responsible for bending the knees and tilting your pelvis, which enable movements such as walking and squatting.
- Semimembranosus: This is the largest of the hamstring muscles. It enables us to straighten our hips and bend our knees.
- Biceps Femoris: The biceps femoris starts at the thigh and is located at the back of the leg. It is comprised of two heads - the long head and the short head. The biceps femoris allow us to perform knee flexion.
- Semitendinosus: This is a long muscle located at the back of the thigh, between the biceps femoris and the semimembranosus. It helps to medially rotate the tibia and femur.
The hamstring muscles are the most commonly injured muscles when it comes to sporting injuries. Recovery can take a long time, but it’s possible to help prevent hamstring injuries using strengthening exercises.
In particular, there are many benefits of using a massage gun on your hamstrings.
In this article, we'll cover:
- The benefits of massage guns on the hamstrings
- How to use a massage gun on your hamstring
- Hamstring warm up and mobilisation
- Frequently asked questions
The benefits of massage guns on the hamstrings:
Massage guns help to release lactic acid and relieve tight hamstrings
When oxygen levels in the body are low, we begin to compensate for this by converting lactate into energy. Since lactic acid tends to build up faster than we can burn it off, we can be left feeling tight and tired, with sore muscles.
Vibration therapy after a workout can help to remove lactic acid buildup from the muscle and thus reduce the risk of muscle soreness (1). Using a massage gun on your hamstrings can greatly help to relieve the tight feelings you can get from lactic acid buildup.
They improve blood flow and circulation
Massage guns can help to passively improve blood flow to the muscles (2) which, in turn, helps to flush out toxins and deliver our muscles with nutrients and oxygen. This results in an increased speed of recovery, relief from muscle soreness, and an increased range of motion, so you’ll be able to move those hamstrings sooner after your workout and further than you thought.
They improve range of motion
A 2011 study demonstrated that vibration therapy can help to cultivate an increased range of motion, even after strenuous exercise (3). A proper range of motion in the hamstrings will help to maintain correct posture and joints, reducing the risk of injuries such as strains and sprains.
Massage guns help to relieve DOMS
Delayed onset muscle soreness, also known as DOMS, is a muscle pain that we sometimes feel after a tough training session and It can last around 24 to 72 hours. Vibration therapy has been shown to help prevent the onset of DOMS. In a 2014 study of 45 subjects, muscle soreness was reported to be significantly less for the participants who underwent vibration therapy than the control group (4).
Now you know how you can benefit from using a massage gun, it’s time to learn how to use one for your hamstrings.
How to use a massage gun on your hamstring
If you want to use a massage gun to relieve muscle soreness, loosen up your hamstrings, or even just as a preventative measure, you’ll need to know the basics.
1. Make sure you’re using the right massage gun head
If you’re looking to massage your hamstrings, we’d recommend using the big round head attachment for our massage gun. Because it covers a large surface area, the big round head is ideal for larger muscle groups such as the glutes, hamstrings, and the quads. Alternatively, you can use the flat head for a deeper massage.
Tip: Our massage gun is easily customisable and you can select the head with which you feel most comfortable.
- Large round head: For general, full body muscle massage. An ideal attachment for beginners.
- Small round head: For general, full body muscle massage. Ideal for more focussed, deeper muscle work.
- Flat head: For general, full body muscle massage. Ideal for increased intensity and depth.
- Pneumatic head: To massage sensitive muscles. Ideal for managing those more painful areas.
- Spinal head:For spinal muscle massage. This is a specific head attachment.
- Bullet head: For trigger point therapy. Ideal for advanced, localised, deep muscle massage.
2. Position the head of your massage gun
Prior to using your massage gun, you should ensure that the head is in an optimal position to enable you to easily apply the device to your hamstrings.
Tip: You shouldn’t position the head of the massage gun against your hamstrings until after you’ve turned it on to avoid any bruising.
3. Use a firm grip
Don’t hold the massage gun too loosely in your hands. A firm grip will help to stop the massage gun from accidentally slipping in your hand.
4. Get into a comfortable and practical position
To easily massage your hamstrings with a massage gun, you’ll need to be in a comfortable position which also allows easy access to your hamstrings. Lying down is likely to be comfortable, but we would also recommend elevating your foot and resting it on your opposing knee. This position will mean that the hamstrings will be more easily accessible.
5. Start off slowly and gently
To begin with, you should have the massage gun on its lowest setting. This will help you to better assess the right level for you, without causing injury. The same can be said about the level of pressure you should apply to your hamstrings. To start off, you should use a lighter pressure and allow the head to gently glide across the hamstring muscles.
6. Timing is everything
You can use a massage gun prior to or after your training, however it’s best to only use one for about 1 to 2 minutes for each area.
7. Avoid these common mistakes
Knowing how to use a massage gun also means knowing what not to do. Using one incorrectly can lead to unnecessary pain or injury.
- Don’t massage bruises, wounds or bony areas of the body
- Don’t massage musculoskeletal injuries (such as sprains)
- Don’t excessively massage a muscle or area
- Don’t directly use a massage gun on joints or the neck
- Make sure to consult a medical professional if you have any health issues or concerns
Now that you know the basics, why not try out a more advanced exercise? In this exercise, we’ll look at warming up and mobilising the hamstrings, enabling recovery and an improved range of motion.
Remember, each muscle group should be massaged a maximum of once per day using the massage gun, so don’t use the beginner and advanced techniques together.
Hamstring warm up and mobilisation
Equipment needed: Massage gun, flat head, spinal head, medium resistance band
To warm up
- Begin by attaching the flat head to your massage gun and turning it to the highest setting with which you are currently comfortable.
- To improve blood circulation, move the massage gun up and down the length of your hamstrings.
- You should cover as much of the hamstring surface area as you can.
- Once you’ve focussed for 30 to 60 seconds on the hamstring area, you can then move on to your glutes and then your calves.
- You should do this until you feel your hamstrings start to get warm.
To mobilise the hamstrings
- Now that you’ve warmed up, we recommend switching to the spinal head and using a medium or low speed.
- Ensure that your resistance band is looped around a heavy, fixed point. To ensure that this point doesn’t move whilst you are moving, it should weigh at least 30kg.
- Loop the resistance band as high up the front of your upper thigh as possible, with the anchor point behind you.
- Essentially, the resistance band should be diagonal, anchored to the floor.
- With your anchored leg, put a small amount of tension on the resistance band.
- Lock out your knee of the same leg to help bring that hamstring tension into play.
- Take a step forward with your free leg and then lean forwards slightly.
- This will increase the tension on your hamstrings.
- You can now turn on your massage gun to its low or medium setting.
- Massage up and down the hamstring area with the massage gun.
- You should focus on the areas which you can feel being stretched and on any areas which feel tighter or less comfortable than normal.
- If you feel you can, take another step forward with your free leg and continue to massage those tension points in your hamstrings.
- You should keep your lower-back flat rather than curved.
- Again, if you feel able to, take another step forward and continue to massage.
- You can now repeat this process on your other leg.
Tip: If you feel too much pain, you should hold back and listen to your body. Don’t increase your range of motion past what is comfortable for you. Your body will tell you what feels right, so be sure to listen to it. As you continue to perform this exercise, your range of motion will gradually improve.
Massage guns for your hamstrings - frequently asked questions:
Can you use a massage gun on your hamstring?
You can use a massage gun on your hamstrings to loosen the muscles, improve blood flow, help prevent DOMS and improve range of motion.
Are massage guns good for tight hamstrings?
Massage guns are a form of vibrational therapy. When applied to the hamstrings, vibration therapy helps to improve blood flow, increase range of motion and loosen the muscles.
Where should you massage your hamstrings?
You can massage the length of your hamstrings, paying particular attention to any knots. Just ensure that you’re not using a massage gun on any bruises, wounds or tears, as this could do more harm than good.
Which massage gun attachment is best for hamstrings?
For larger muscle groups such as the hamstrings, we would recommend the large round head. However, if you’re looking for a deeper, penetrating massage, then the spinal head is also a great choice.
The hamstring muscles are often injured when it comes to sports and can take a long time to recover. Using a massage gun correctly can help to improve blood flow and range of motion, helping to prevent injury, ease pain and speed up recovery.
Related video: How to use a vibrating foam roller on your hamstrings.
2 - Percival,S., Stebbings, G., Simms, D. 2021. Local vibration therapy increases oxygen re-saturation rate and maintains muscle strength following exercise-induced muscle damage. Journal of athletic training.
3 - W.Y. Lau, K. Nosaka. 2011. Effect of Vibration Treatment on Symptoms Associated with Eccentric Exercise‐Induced Muscle Damage. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 90(8): 648–57.
4 - Imtiyaz, S., Veqar, Z., Shareef, M.Y. 2014. To Compare the Effect of Vibration Therapy and Massage in Prevention of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). J Clin Diagn Res. 8(1): 133-136. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/7294.3971