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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2018)

Semitendinosus Muscle Pain: Signs and Symptoms

The pain caused by a semitendinosus strain is immediate and usually sharp.The pain from trigger points in the muscle is often an ache but can become sharp with movement of the thigh and/or knee.

Semitendinosus Injury Signs and Pain

  • A pulling, tearing, or popping sensation is felt in the back of the thigh
  • A pulled or mild strain will cause moderate pain
  • A severe strain can cause excruciating pain so that putting weight on the leg to walk is difficult or impossible
  • The back of the thigh is extremely tender to touch
  • Swelling and bruising are present
  • A feeling of weakness in the thigh
  • Muscle spasm

Semitendinosus Trigger Points Signs and Pain

  • Pain just below the buttock that descends down the back of the thigh and sometimes into the back of the knee
  • Pain will occasionally go down into the top of the calf
  • Pain intensifies when walking or trying to jog or run
  • Carrying a heavy item will increase pain
  • Rising from a seated position will cause a deep aching pain in the back of the thigh
  • Deep aching pain in the back of the thigh is common while sleeping


Semitendinosus Pain Referral: below the buttock traveling down the inside leg to the knee and sometimes calf can indicate semitendinosus dysfunction.

TWD Recommends: Adjustable Hamstring Brace

The Odofit Support Brace is one of the best supports for hamstring pain and injury. The brace has 3 adjustable straps that allows you to adjust the compression to your needs. It is also long enough to cover most of the upper thigh which is important for support and compression.


Where is the semitendinosus muscle located?

It attaches at the bottom of the pelvis (ischial tuberosity), traveling down the thigh to connect to the head of the shin bone (tibia).

What movements does the semitendinosus muscle control?

The semitendinosus muscle bends the knee and straightens the thigh. When the knee is bent, it is the muscle that twists the leg in toward the other leg.


You use the semitendinosus muscle to straighten the thigh, bend your knee, and twist the leg in toward your body.

Semitendinosus Anatomy Info

Looking for detailed muscle anatomy? The Semitendinosis Anatomy page has origin, insertion, innervation and blood supply information. It also lists agonist and antagonists for each muscle action.


What Causes Semitendinosus Strain Injury?

Strains occur when the muscle is stretched beyond capacity and/or when the weight of the body is suddenly loaded onto the muscle. Some examples are:

  • Over extending your stride when running
  • Pushing off the ball of your foot or your toes to quickly accelerate while running
  • Planting your foot and making a hard pivot or sudden turn
  • A misstep that twists the thigh at hip and/or knee

Athletes often injure the semitendinosus and the other hamstring muscles. Poor conditioning and not taking time for a proper warm up, and muscle fatigue are often contributing factors to strains.

Sports and activities that contribute to semitendinosus strains:

  • Football
  • Soccer
  • Hockey
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Runners especially sprinters
  • Hurdlers
  • Cyclist
  • Swimmers

Note: Preteens and teens are highly susceptible to hamstring muscle strains as the bones often grow faster than the muscles.

What Causes Trigger Points To Develop In The Semitendinosus Muscle:

  • Sitting for long periods of time cause the muscle to shorten
  • Sitting on a chair or bench with a hard edge that pushes into the back of the leg
  • Poor conditioning and being out of shape taxes the muscle
  • Trigger points are usually found after a muscle strain

How Long Does It Take A Semitendinosus Muscle Strain To Heal?

A Grade I (mild) strain can heal in 3-4 weeks. A Grade II (moderate) strain can take 4-8 weeks to heal depending on the severity of the muscle fiber tears.
A Grade III strain can take several months to a year to heal due to the damage of the muscle fiber and possible tendon tears.
Because semitendinosus and other hamstring strains have a tendency to reoccur, Grade II and Grade III strains should be monitored by a doctor. 

Semitendinosus Trigger Point Recovery

 It can take 2-3 weeks of daily treatment to fully alleviate the pain and discomfort. The good news is that pain and discomfort are often reduced in a few days.

The pain caused by semitendinosus strain will often make you go to the ground.

Tips To Prevent Semitendinosus Muscle Injury and Pain

  • A few minutes of proper warm up can save you days, weeks, or months of pain, stiffness and inactivity due to injury
  • To get fit you often have to push past your comfort zone but when muscle fatigue sets in take time and rest, don't push past your conditioning
  • Stay aware when executing pivots and hard turns. Allow the foot and leg to move with the body.
  • Don't sit for hours at a time. Get up stretch and walk around. Consider investing in a standing desk if you spend hours sitting at a desk.
  • Use a gel seat cushion when sitting on hard surfaces to relieve the pressure of the hard edge pressing into the back of the thigh.
  • Take time to check and release trigger points

Trigger Points

Trigger points are small knots found in the muscle that when pressed increase pain in the area or send referred pain to another area of the body. The good news is that you can learn how to treat your own trigger points.

Interesting facts about the semiendinosus muscle:

  • Pain and stiffness in the semitendinosus is often diagnosed as hamstring tendinitis or sciatica.
  • A braking action of the semitendinosus muscle along with the other hamstring muscles stop the body from falling forward when standing upright.
  • Tightness in the hamstring muscles contributes to low back pain.

Semitendinosus Muscle Pain and Symptoms Can Be Similar To, Contribute To, and Be Affected By These Medical Diagnosis:

  • L5 radiculopathy
  • Bruised ischial tuberosity
  • Deep vascular thrombosis
  • Cauda equina syndrome

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the semitendinosus muscle:

Satellite trigger points associated with the semitendinosus muscle:

  • Long head of biceps femoris
  • Vastus lateralis
  • Vastus intermedius
  • Vastus medialis
  • Rectus femoris
  • Adductor magnus
  • Quadratus lumborum
  • Thoracic paraspinals
  • Rectus abdominis

Semitendinosus injury can occur any where along the length of the muscle.


Recommendations for Semitendinosus Pain Relief

Cold and Warming Gels

If you have sore tight thigh muscles warming and cooling gels can help relieve the pain and get you through the day. I have two that I use both in my practice and personally that I highly recommend.

BioFreeze Cold Gel is the best choice for recent injury and sudden onset pain. The gel works much like ice as it cools the area and discourages inflammation. It is excellent for reducing pain to a bearable level.

Sombra Warming Gel is also excellent at reducing pain. The gel warms the area relieving stiffness and pain. I recommend Sombra for chronic pain, stiffness and post injury use. I like this gel because it does not warm so much that you experience the heat discomfort that happen with other warming creams and gels.

Hot /Cold Pack For Hamstring Muscles

The Simple Spectra Clay Hot/Cold Wrap is a good choice to provide cold or warm therapy to the semitendinosus and other hamstring muscles. The wrap not only provides a consistent temperature but also provides compression which is important for reducing swelling and aiding in faster recovery. The wrap can also be used on other areas of the body.

Braces and Supports

If you have recently injured the semitendinosus muscle you will need support to aid in your healing, pain relief and comfort.  I recommend the Thigh Brace by Vive. It allows you to adjust the compression to your needs and comfort. Excellent compression support for injured or sore hamstring muscles.

Another option for support are Compression Shorts. They provide compression and support from the hips to above the knee, supporting the muscle connection to the bone in the pelvis (common injury site). I recommend these for preventative support and also for support post injury. I use the CW-X Women's Mid Rise Stabilyx Compression Shorts and highly recommend them.  For men the Mava Men’s Compression Shorts come highly recommended by clients and friends.

If you do not need a full brace but want support, I recommend the Sparthos Thigh Sleeve. I use this sleeve and it provides great support and compression. It is one of the few thigh sleeves that stays in place, it does not roll up or down. I use the CW-X Women's Mid Rise Stabilyx Shorts and highly recommend them. And for the men, the Mava Men’s Compression Shorts are recommended by two of my male clients.

Self Treatment For Semitendinosus Muscle Pain

Trigger points in the semitendinosus muscle can make walking, sitting, and even sleeping difficult. You can learn to treat hamstring trigger points and other muscles through out the body. The best resource for self treatment is The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. The authors explain trigger point pain, how to find and treat them. The book is easy to follow and is a must have for anyone interested in self treating muscle pain.

Tools For Self Treatment

Two tools recommended by The Trigger Point Therapy Book for semitendinosus treatment are Lacrosse balls and the Thera Cane. The book provides instructions on how to use the tools on the various muscles of the body.

The Lacrosse balls are used while seated to apply pressure and massage the leg. Properly sitting on massage balls can deactivate trigger points and help relax and lengthen the muscle.

The Thera Cane can be used while standing to find and apply pressure to the trigger points. The Thera Cane gives you a longer reach so you don't have to twist and bend to treat the muscle.

Another tool I often recommend is the Tiger Tail Roller. Though it is not the best tool to treat trigger points it is great to use for self massage on sore and tight muscles. I like the Tiger Tail Roller as it does not require you to have upper body strength or  contort your body into position to use it. It works well for all muscles of the upper and lower leg.


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