Exercises for a Knot in the Hamstring

The hamstring is a dense muscle that tends to get tight, particularly if you spend many hours working on a computer. Knots may develop in spots where muscle fibers have actually bonded. Think of a knot as a balled-up rubber band. If you pull on it, the knot becomes more compact. To loosen and unravel it, you need to mash the knot. Various self massage techniques can be used to iron out knots in your hamstrings.

Young woman stretching before exercise
Woman stretching her hamstrings in a field (Image: EpicStockMedia/iStock/Getty Images)

Run Your Fist

You can use your fist to apply gentle pressure on a knot in your hamstring and loosen it. Begin by sitting on the floor with your back pressed against a wall. Bend the knee of the leg with the hamstring knot so your foot is flat on the floor. You'll find that this position allows your hamstring muscle to relax natural naturally. Make a fist with the hand that corresponds to the bent leg and put it behind the knee of that leg. Your palm should face the hamstring. Slowly press into the hamstring muscle with your fist, then run it down your leg toward your buttocks. Repeat this movement until you feel the knot start to relax.

Knead the Knot

If you've got strong fingers, you can knead the knot and self massage a tight hamstring muscle. Begin by lying supine, bending the knee of the leg with the hamstring knot and crossing the corresponding foot over the opposite leg. Grasp the back of the bent knee with both hands, pressing your fingers into the hamstring muscle and positioning your thumbs on your kneecap. Slowly draw your hands down the back of your leg, putting pressure on the hamstring with your fingers. When you hit the knot, gently apply more pressure and hold the position until you feel the knot release. Continue to massage your leg, moving your fingers toward your sitting bones. Also press your fingers into the center of your hamstring and then rub the muscles from side to side. Avoid putting any direct pressure on the back of your knee.

Roll It Out

Use a foam roller to apply gentle pressure to a muscle knot in your hamstring. This type of massage relies on self-myofascial release, a method of stretching which generates autogenic inhibition, or the reduction of muscle spindle excitation. It will unbundle and lengthen the muscle fibers of a knot, bringing them back into proper alignment with the surrounding muscle fibers. Sit on the floor and place the roller under the hamstring with the knot. Place your hands behind you, palms on the floor and fingers pointing toward your body. Place the heel of the non-working foot on the toe of the working foot, so they're stacked. Slowly roll forward and backward, moving from the buttocks to your knees and supporting your body with your hands. When you hit the knot, pause and hold the roller on that spot for 20 to 30 seconds. You may feel slight discomfort, which is natural and will subside after the exercise.

Use a Hard Ball

If you have very stiff and dense hamstrings, a roller or pair of hands may not be hard enough to loosen a knot. Instead, use a baseball or other small dense ball to open up the muscle. For example, begin by sitting on a solid surface -- wooden chair or bench -- which is high enough to allow your legs to dangle freely without touching the floor. Raise your thigh and place the ball under the knot. Bend forward at the waist to put pressure on the ball and then slowly straighten the knee of the working leg. The bundled fibers of the muscle knot will be forced to lengthen and expand around the ball. Slowly return to starting position, allowing your working leg to bend and hang down. Repeat the exercise five times.

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