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TENS Machine for Hamstring: Using Electrotherapy to Alleviate Hamstring Strain

A person holding his hamstring due to pain

Hamstring pain is a common ailment that affects everyday activities. One increasingly popular method of pain relief is the use of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). TENS machine for hamstring is a device that delivers electrical currents to the body. Accordingly, it alleviates hamstring strain by activating different mechanisms. Electrical stimulation can block pain signals and trigger the release of endorphins. To use the device, one needs to place the electrode pads and adjust the settings.

Hamstring injury is common among active athletes and individuals. This often causes significant pain levels (acute pain or chronic pain), muscle paintendon injuries, and muscle tightness. While cold and heat therapy, functional exercise programs, and physical therapy modalities can be beneficial, sometimes, additional measures are needed to speed up the rehabilitation process. Hence, it is where TENS comes in. This article will present how TENS units work for the hamstring, how to use them, and the safety guidelines.

How a TENS Machine for Hamstring Works

TENS machine for hamstring works by sending electrical pulses to the treatment area. Accordingly, this electrical stimulation can promote the release of endorphins. These are the natural chemicals of the body that act as natural painkillers. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that bind to specialised receptors in the brain and spinal cord. As a result, it produces a sense of well-being and mitigates hamstring injury symptoms.

The Pain Gate Theory further elucidates how TENS works. According to this, the electrical impulses can modulate or block the transmission of pain messages. Moreover, the application of electrical stimulation can lead to an increase in blood circulation. This brings vital nutrients and oxygen to the connective tissues and injured hamstring muscles. Hence, it promotes the healing and rehabilitation process and reduces inflammation.

Some devices, such as iTENS, incorporate the fusion of Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS) and TENS. EMS can cause the muscles in the treatment area to contract and relax. These muscle contractions can help to improve muscle strength and prevent atrophy. Nevertheless, it facilitates the rehabilitation and recovery of strained hamstring muscles.

Benefits of Electrotherapy

  • Non-invasive: unlike invasive interventions, such as injections or surgical procedures, TENS therapy involves the external application of low-voltage electrical impulses.
  • Drug-free: rather than relying on pharmaceutical interventions, TENS leverages the mechanisms of the body to alleviate discomfort.
  • Portable: the devices are typically compact and lightweight. This allows individuals to use them in various settings.
  • Customisable: it offers a high degree of customisability. Hence, it caters to the diverse needs and preferences of users.
  • Cost-effective: it eliminates the ongoing cost of medications, physical therapies, and frequent visits to medical professionals.
  • User-friendly: the device is easy to operate, contributing to its convenience.

A person peeling the protective backing of the electrode pad

How to Use a TENS Machine for Hamstring

Using a TENS machine for hamstring involves a simple step process. To start, connect the electrodes to the central unit using lead cables or to a smartphone via Bluetooth for wireless. Accordingly, identify the treatment area and prepare it before applying the electrodes. In positioning the pads, it is crucial to follow the proper electrode placement. This is to ensure the effectiveness of TENS therapy.

Once the electrodes are in place, the individual can power on the TENS unit. The device may allow the user to adjust the settings. Hence, modify the frequency, intensity, and duration of electrical stimulation. Also, some TENS models may enable users to select a pre-set program. Therefore, choose the program that directly and precisely targets hamstring pain.

Professionals recommend starting the therapy with the lowest settings and gradually increasing it to comfortable levels. The duration of the TENS therapy can vary depending on individual needs and recommendations. Typically, the session may last for 15 to 30 minutes. Once the treatment is complete, turn off the TENS machine and carefully remove the electrode pads from the skin.

Electrode Placement

Firstly, the individual should locate the specific area of the hamstring experiencing discomfort. Secondly, cleanse the skin to remove any oils, lotions, or sweat. Thirdly, place the electrodes on the skin. Typically, users may position the pad at or near the point of maximum pain and the other at a short distance away from the first pad.

When placing the pads, it is important to maintain an appropriate distance between the pads to cover the treatment area. The individual should also consider the angle at which the muscle fibres run. Hence, position the pads parallel to these fibres for optimal coverage and stimulation.

A TENS unit with two packs of refill gel pads from iTENS Australia

Safety Guidelines When Using a TENS Machine for Hamstring

When using a TENS machine for hamstring, it is crucial to follow specific safety guidelines. Before initiating TENS therapy, individuals should seek professional guidance from a healthcare professional. Accordingly, correct electrode placement is essential in the therapy. Individuals should carefully follow the instructions in the user manual or the advice of medical providers.

Before placing the pads, it is important to clean and dry the skin. This helps to promote optimal adhesion and minimises the risk of skin irritation. Also, avoid placing the electrodes over sensitive areas, such as bony regions. During TENS therapy, the user should closely monitor any sensations. Do not start the treatment with high settings to eliminate any electrical shock and further discomfort.

Furthermore, it is crucial to avoid using the device in or around water. TENS machines are electronic devices that should be kept away from moisture. This is to prevent the risk of electrical malfunction. Moreover, using TENS while engaging in activities that require focus is not advisable. The electrical stimulation may affect the ability of the individual to concentrate fully.

The Importance of Consulting a Doctor

Consulting a medical professional allows for an accurate diagnosis of the hamstring strain. Therefore, they can provide insights into the underlying cause of the discomfort and the most appropriate treatment option. Also, healthcare practitioners can develop a treatment plan tailored to the unique condition of the patient. This approach ensures that the application of TENS is safe and effective.

Additionally, seeking guidance from a doctor enables individuals to receive clear instructions on the operation of TENS. This includes appropriate electrode placement, duration of therapy sessions, and settings. Professionals can also identify any contraindications that may make the use of TENS unsuitable for certain individuals.


In summary, a TENS machine for hamstring strain is a valuable tool for individuals. TENS is a device that sends electrical pulses to the treatment area. Accordingly, this electrical stimulation works by prompting the release of endorphins and blocking the transmission of pain signals. Also, it can promote blood circulation and induce muscle contractions. TENS units also provide benefits. It is non-invasive, drug-free, portable, customisable, cost-effective, and user-friendly.

Furthermore, TENS devices are easy to operate. One needs to locate the area of the hamstring that is experiencing discomfort. Then, the user will position the electrodes, adjust the settings, and activate the stimulation. Proper pad placement is vital in the therapy. Nevertheless, it is crucial to know the safety guidelines for optimal TENS treatment. Also, it is essential to recognise the importance of consulting a professional. Those who want to acquire TENS may check the online retailer iTENS Australia.

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