Hamstring Trigger Points

Hamstring trigger points are a major cause of pain in the back of the thigh, knee, and buttock. In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Hamstring muscle function
  • Where to find hamstring trigger points
  • How to treat trigger points
  • How to stretch the hamstring muscles

These trigger points in the hamstrings are found in three major muscles in the back of the thigh: semimembranosus, semitendinosus and the biceps femoris.

Hamstring Muscles

These three muscles make up the hamstrings, which are the large muscles that run down the back of the thigh. They all insert around the knee and arise from the pelvis.

This set of muscles run across two joints: the hip and the knee joint. When muscles run across the two joints, they are more vulnerable to having problems particularly trigger points.

Hamstring Muscle Function

The movements are that they will help expand the hip because they attach at the back of the hip into your pelvis, around your sitting bones. If the knee is the unmoving point, as the muscle contracts it will pull your leg backward, and extend your hip joints. If the hip joint becomes the unmoving point these muscles will flex the knee joint – or pull your knee back. 

When the hamstrings are working, another very important function they fulfill is they stabilize both the knee and the hip joint.

They do this while you are standing, running, walking – all through your gait cycle.

Biceps femoris, is on the lateral or outer side of the thigh, running down and forming the lateral edge of the muscle. If you run your hand over the back your knee when it’s bent, you’ll notice two sets of tendons. These are the two main attachments of the hamstring muscles. The biceps femoris forms the outer one of these tendons. The semitendinosus and semimembranosus join in on the inner side of the knee

Of the two sticks of Shinzen that at the back of your knee, which you can, you run your hand and you see the tendons which come on out the side of the knee and I’ll begin of thought of the knee, the back. So the Bostic femoris is on the lateral side and the semitendinosus, any member of the two States of tendon that join in all the beans in that part of the, of the knee. 

Pain from Hamstring Trigger Points

Semimembranosus and Semitendinosus Trigger Points
Hamstring Trigger Points – Biceps Femoris

The biceps femoris is of a large muscle where the main body of the muscle is higher up the thigh and the semimembranosus and semitendinosus are different in that one of them, has its main muscle bulk, higher up the thigh and then it’s got a big long tendon that runs down.

The other one has more muscle, lower down, and the main tendon runs up.

Finding Hamstring Trigger Points

The important thing about knowing where the muscle bulk is, is that this is where the triggers occur. The triggers are in the center of the muscle bulk, and they also occur at the musculotendinous junction where the muscle joined the tendon.

You may feel hamstring trigger points in the muscle, but they refer pain down around the back of the knee and up into the buttock.

Biceps femoris refers pain to the back of the knee on the outside, and semitendinosus and membranosus refers pain down the leg on the inside, and up into the sit bones.

Active trigger points tend to cause pain when you walk and stand. As your weight comes down, the hamstring muscles contract to stabilize the knee and the pelvis, so you can put weight on one leg and stay balanced.

The muscles need to do very complicated movements because they are controlling both the knee and the hip joints as you go through your gait cycle. Sometimes they’re giving impetus to pull you forward, and at other times, they giving you the impetus to pull your leg back. In other words, they drive you forward by extending your hips and flexing your knee. 

As you go to your gait cycle there are times when you’re putting all your weight on one leg. If you have active trigger points, you will feel pain around the back of the knee and deep in your buttock at these times.

Hamstring trigger points occur in runners, walkers, and athletes. They’re often set off by a slip. If you slide one foot forward suddenly, this can overstretch the hamstrings and create trigger points.

To find hamstring trigger points, feel down the back of your thigh with your hands and you’ll find areas that are exquisitely sore. This is also a good area to use a myofascial release tool like a Theracane or Back Knobber.

Treating Hamstring Trigger Points

If you have thin legs then it’s easy to find the triggers using ischemic pressure. If you have a lot of muscle or fat, then it’s a little more difficult to get down to the trigger to turn it off.

You can turn off trigger points by using ischemic pressure. Hamstring trigger points respond very well to dry needling because they’re large muscles, and needles can easily get down to the triggers located in the bulk of the muscle.

Hamstring pain is sometimes mistaken for sciatic pain because people feel pain running from the buttock down to the back of the knee. However, hamstring triggers produce a deep, achy pain, not the classic, radicular pain of sciatica.

Safe and Unsafe Hamstring Stretches

After treating trigger points, and applying heat, you need to stretch the hamstrings. There are safe and unsafe hamstring stretches.

The traditional way that’s usually described as a stretch hamstring is that what you stand and put your straight leg onto a table or the arm of a chair.

Unsafe Hamstring Stretch

That’s an unsafe stretch, because you’re standing on one leg and the position is essentially unstable. As you lean forward, you may not have perfect hamstring and pelvic and core muscle control. This means it’s possible to overdo the stretch and injure yourself.

The safe hamstring stretch is an unexpected one. You stand in front of a chair, lift your leg up and have your knee bent, and you put your foot on the chair in front of you. The chair needs to have two armrests. S

You have your knee bent and your hip bent, at pretty close to 90 degrees. Then draw your chest forward onto your leg that’s flexed.

So you’re leaning on your thigh with chest forward, which means that your hip is fully flexed. If the chair has armrests, hold onto those for stability.

Then, push gently backwards and slowly start to extend your knee. This means you’re straightening out your knee with your chest on your thigh..

Safe Hamstring Stretch

By fully flexing your hip, what you’ve done is you’ve done a big hamstring stretch already. As you push back, you will find that immediately your hamstrings start to stretch.

You’re getting the same stretch in your hamstrings as the first one, but you have much more control, and you’re holding onto the chair as a safe brace.

Once you’re in the stretch, you can go from side to side to stretch purely the biceps femoris or just the semimembranosus.

Hamstring Trigger Treatment Summary

If you want to turn off active trigger points in your hamstrings, these are the steps:

  • Find and treat the trigger points
  • Put local heat on for 5 minutes
  • Stretch out your hamstrings
  • putting heat on for another few minutes

That will make an enormous difference to the pain you feel in your hamstrings and give you ease of movement as you sit, stand and walk.

For a more detailed guide to treating trigger points, here’s where to download the free trigger point manual.