Hamstring Help -- For those with tight hamstrings
Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Are you tired of constantly stretching you hamstrings and not seeing results? Many young athletes, weekend warriors, office workers, students, etc. are often plagued by their hamstrings feel like they have become "tight", stiff, numb, cramp filled, and/or painful. The number of ways to creatively stretch this muscle group would make almost any coach, trainer, healthcare professional, and athlete's head spin. And yet, more and more people are complaining of this problem.
Why do people have tight hamstrings?
The secret is MOST TIGHT HAMSTRINGS ARE THE RESULT OF A PROBLEM SOMEWHERE ELSE. But then why are they tight when I exercise or doing anything? Simply, they are not strong enough to overcome or mask the muscle imbalance, back problem, and/or nerve tension issue(s)
The most common way this happens is when the hamstrings are asked to do the job of the hip extensor group, create balance between hip abductor and adductor muscles, while getting over powered by the hip flexors. The forces the hamstrings to compensate or a person can suffer a worse injury to the back, si joints, knees, and so on.
So, tight hamstrings is initially protective! Your body does not want to get hurt moving. As a result, it tenses the muscles.
So let's look at the average person. Generally you wake up and get ready for work or school. You jump in your car or catch the bus where your hamstrings are stretched while you sit. You then do as little walking as possible to get to your desk where you sit for the remainder of the day. Some people occasionally get up for food, bathroom breaks, etc. But rarely do people stretch 1 time an hour. This person then, taking as few steps as possible, goes home. Where they plop down on a couch or in front of a computer and sit till bedtime.
Then on occasion this person or student will get up and do something active. This person who spends most of their time sitting is now asking a lot of their body. Often these people are doing this for sports, competitions, or even just for fun. And until the hamstring problem is severe enough, most people do not stretch or warm up appropriately. Those of you that do , you stretch and stretch your hamstrings prior to the activity and still cannot touch your toes.
Eventually there is an injury of the hamstrings, injury to the lower back, injury to the knees, pinched nerve, etc.
How do you know if you have weak hamstrings?
Stiffness in the back of the legs
You start noticing that you’re sticking your butt out more
Even though you stick your butt out you’re leaning when you walk or stand
You knees lock when you stand
You start to get back pain or knee pain when you stand for a long period of time.
Going from sitting to standing requires you to lean forward to stand up or causes pain
Here is how to stretch your body for tight hamstrings safely:
First, before you read any further, do not stretch if you feel pain and/or injury. Second, if this does not work, schedule an in office evaluation. There could be a more serious problem.
Without stretching your hamstrings see how far you can bend at the waist. Can you touch the ground? Or lay on your back and do a straight leg raise. How high can you easily lift your leg?
Stretch your hip adductors for 3 reps of 30 seconds
Stretch you hip rotators for 3 reps of 30 seconds
Stretch your iliopsoas for 3 reps of 30 seconds
Stretch you calves for 3 reps of 30 seconds
Now try to touch your toes or try the straight leg raise.
Did you reach farther?
Well, the muscles that were compensating for your overworked hamstrings got stretched and activated. This allowed for the entire muscle group to relax and allow you to reach farther. Unfortunately, these stretches effects can be short lived if there are other problems.