Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums General Hamstring scar tissue/tear [Solved]

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    • #71058
      AvatarElyse Waters

      Still full of questions!

      I have some high hammy scar tissue that makes it hard to sit for longer periods of time. I’ve seen the video on “High hamstring tear” but flossing or superflossing makes my hamstring worse the day after. While flossing my hamstring gets more and more soar, it doesn’t feel right. I’m considering jamming a double lacrosse ball up there right now because I’m at work and have to sit at least 6 more hours and it’s already painful…How do I go about resolving this?

    • #75057
      AvatarNathan Richer

      Coming back from an injury can be really tough. as you have discovered, the scar tissue may not be pliable yet. some questions:

      1. what caused the initial injury?
      2. how long did it take until you were pain free?
      3. did you see a clinician to help you with recovery?
      4. have you seen any specialists like ART or graston folks to help make the tissue more functional?
      5. is there pain now, or more just soreness?
      6. is there ever a time with no pain? how does the high hamstring feel then?
      7. can you elaborate more on “hard to sit for long periods of time”? are you sitting properly, ie. good posture? what’s your chair like? most chairs suck. you may want to try a small wedge to tilt yourself forward.
      i have a similar issue with my right high ham where i cannot smash it – balls of any softness do not work and make it more sore. the only thing that does work is flossing with band distraction while lying on the ground.
      but also it could be some other issue up and/or downstream that is exacerbating the problem and causing it still to be reactive, and therefore resistant to smashing and flossing.  please do report back and lets see if there is something that we can suggest via this forum!
    • #75058
      AvatarElyse Waters

      Thanks, I’ll try to answer your questions:

      1. The manual therapist I’ve been seeing thought I might have torn some muscle fibers from deadlifting and now have some tacked down scar tissue there. And that’s now 1.5 years ago (?). It wasn’t an acute injury.
      2. Still not painfree. At the max I’ve been able to sit 4 hours in a stretch (buss ride or airplane ride) the past year.
      3. See 1. After 6 months in increasing pain I decided to see a manual therapist. At the time I could barely sit 20 min without pain. Got some exersices (variants of one legged deadlift) and those helped. As I got better they were less effective, but I might just try them again.
      4. Saw someone with ART training before the manual therapist, didn’t help.
      5. The pain comes after sitting a couple of hours now. It’s more of a burning sensation than a soarness from the high hamstring, sometimes spreading downstream. Definitly not nerve pain.
      6. Only pain after sitting a few hours. It’s the left side btw. If I remember correctly; the pain will not get better and/or will get worse when lying on my right side.
      7. My posture when sitting isn’t the best. I usually lean back a bit (but trying to keep my abs a bit on), because sitting upright gives me back “pain” i.e. tension in the back muscles (and that’s another problem, I don’t have much flexion in my lumbar spine either). I have a regular office chair I guess, but it’s way better for my hamstring to sit on this kind of chair: http://kontorkonsult.no/media/frontend_media/produkter/8106/hoved.jpg
      As I said; flossing just makes it worse. Today at work I was able to relieve some of the pain by smashing my hamstring. Did a 10 min “monkey bar of death” after workout, and I don’t feel as soar now. I’ll let you guys know how I feel tomorrow!
      The quickest way to relieve pain is to walk it of.
    • #75059

      Do you have access to anyone who does graston or has a set of hawk grips?
      Either one will do wonders for breaking up the scar tissue.

      What is your sitting position like?
      Are you getting up at all when you are sitting at length?
      Any thought of going to a standing desk?
      Sounds like looking at your sitting position will help.
      You may have some low back stuff going on as well.
      What are you doing to address the inflammation in the area?

    • #75063
      AvatarNathan Richer

      Thanks for the comments!

      Which flossing one do you do? The standing one where you distract back and bend over, or the one that i described where you’re laying down and lifting/flossing one leg, with band distraction? If one doesn’t work, try the other. For me, the standing one didn’t do anything for my condition, but the one laying down works much better.  That’s not to say one is better than the other overall; it just means that for a given condition, some things work better than others. 
      Without looking at pics or videos, I would say that the DL may have started the problem, resulting in some ham strain. But what you describe seems more spinal than muscular, meaning that your posture while sitting is not optimal and that may be causing a disc to bulge out and touch nerves that shoot the burning sensation down your leg. It may have been non-optimal posture while doing DLs that started you down this path. I know you think it’s not nerves, but what you describe sounds like it is, especially since you say that your sitting posture is not optimal, and when you stand up and walk it goes away.
      You may want to find someone to doublecheck your spine – can you get an MRI done? that would be conclusive. 
      other than that, when you sit, you shouldn’t be leaning back. you should be finding a neutral place where you feel that your spine bones are stacked on each other and there shouldn’t be any extra tension anywhere holding you upright.  this takes practice and some exploration on where your optimal posture should be. for reference, optimal posture generally means you should have your ear hole line up with middle of shoulder, line up with elbow, line up with middle of hip (and if you’re standing, continue that down to the knee, and then ankle bone). you can have someone take a side pic of you sitting. are these lining up?
      if not, then you will want to address those points from hips up to head. it could be forward head on neck, shoulders that are biased forward in their sockets, t-spine posture not right – either curved forward or back, lumbar spine arched forward or over extended back, pelvis positioning – it should be neutral and not have any tilt too much to the back or front.
      you may consider a wedge that tilts your pelvis forward – that may relieve some of the pressure and help with the ham soreness. I cannot speak for that chair you posted, but the best chair i have found is this one: http://gokhalemethod.com/chair.
    • #75064
      AvatarElyse Waters


      I have no idea how to find someone who does that.

      Check out my second post for sitting position. But generally sitting is not an issue, I usually have the option of standing. I have an standing desk, but it’s on loan to a pregnant coworker. 
      Yes, I do have some back issues as I said in my last post. It feels like my erector spinae is on tension when sitting with straight back or standing. I also don’t have any lumbar flexion. My hip extension is good though, and no anterior pelvic tilt.
      The only thing I’m doing for my hamstring is trying to figure out how to break down the scar tissue. I’ve tried flossing with band and voodoo floss, but that made it worse. The “monkey bars of death” seems to have made it slightly better, or at least not worse.
      I am looking for some tips on how to break up the scar tissue.
    • #75065
      AvatarElyse Waters


      Thanks for your insight!
      I have been doing both. The standing one making it worse and the lying down not doing anything, but I might be doing that wrong. One problem with flossing is that my calves are so tight that I mostly feel the tension there. I’m working on it though.
      The manual therapist I saw said that it wasn’t a nerve problem, I myself have no idea.
      I have done several MRI’s. The only thing they found was: Disc protrusion dorsally against the spinal canal, C3/4, but spacious conditions  relavtive to the spinal canal. Reduced water signal in some discs in the middle t-spine. Some discs with hight reduced cartliage. In the lower t-spine there are some schmorls impression in the spinal coverings.
      The problem with sitting straight and standing is some serious tension of the muscles around my t-spine. I’m working on my t-spine extension and the muscles surrounding the scapulas, hoping that that will help. But I will work  on my posture sitting.
      Even if a better posture while sitting helps reduce the overall pain, there is still the issue of mobility. I’m working on reaching full ROM, because I’m hoping to get back to martial arts within a year or two. But I won’t do that untill I’ve reached full ROM or almost. “Just” had surgery for hip labrum tear, and I’m not doing that again.
    • #75066
      AvatarNathan Richer

      hmm, one other thought about tight t-spine muscles to keep you upright – it could be your hip flexors are also very short from our 20th century lifestyles.  shortened/tight psoas muscles will attempt to drag your spine forward and you could be putting some strain on your spinal erectors because of it, to try to keep you upright.

      try working your psoas with a supernova or big ball.  your rectus femoris is also a hip flexor, so use a battlestar or supernova on those. couch stretch is also a really good one; make sure you contract your glutes strongly as you rise up to vertical – without glute contraction this stretch is not nearly as effective.
      also, use the supernova/big ball on your QLs on your back, as well as lacrosse ball up and down your erectors to keep them loose.
    • #75067
      AvatarElyse Waters

      Well, I have no problem getting in the the couch with butt squeezed, so I don’t believe the rectus femoris is an issue (other than at the insertion of the muscles to the anteror superior iliac spine, where it’s pretty tender on the right side).But my hip extension is good. But as for the psoas I’m not sure. The TFL, QL and erectors needs some attention.

    • #75081
      AvatarElyse Waters

      Things I’ve noticed:

      1. Problem: In the middle splits there is something stopping me on hip level rather than the adductors, feels like the flexors and the around the anterior superior iliac spine. Solution: Working on the TFL (I could barely get on them with the small and soft yogatuneup ball, green), extension in internal rotation and flexion in external rotation? Plus hip capsule work.
      2. I sometimes get cramps in my left glute (same side as my hamstring injury), my solution has been smashing it and that has worked.
      3. When working on the QL is it normal to feel some pain as you remove the ball?
    • #75085
      AvatarNathan Richer

      some thoughts:

      Problem: In the middle splits there is something stopping me on hip level rather than the adductors, feels like the flexors and the around the anterior superior iliac spine. Solution: Working on the TFL (I could barely get on them with the small and soft yogatuneup ball, green), extension in internal rotation and flexion in external rotation? Plus hip capsule work.

      i think you’ll find that whenever/wherever there is restricted/tight tissues, your mobility and ROM are also limited as well. when you drop down into a position, take note of where you feel restricted. then hop out of that position and mob/smash those areas that you felt were tight for a little while, then pop down into your position again. did the position improve? if not, try another area. repeat. this is classic test-retest.

      I sometimes get cramps in my left glute (same side as my hamstring injury), my solution has been smashing it and that has worked.

      it is possible that you are overworking the glute to protect the tight ham. hopefully both will improve with work to ham and glute.

      When working on the QL is it normal to feel some pain as you remove the ball?

      in general, you should feel better after smashing/mobs, not worse. not sure what quality the pain is, but it is possible to do too much work on an area as smashing does create trauma and you could hurt/bruise the area. if it is too much, try a softer ball (ie. alpha ball) and work up to harder balls (ie. supernova). also you can modulate the pressure of your body pressing on the ball as well, and shorten the time you work it.
    • #75090
      AvatarElyse Waters
      Had the glute problem before the hamstring problem, used to get so bad I couldn’t walk. 

      Thanks for all the help guys! Feels good to get some frustration out 😛 Though, kinda strange that what initially worked doesn’t anymore. Smashing didn’t initially work, but flossing did, but now the situation is reversed, hmm..

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