What Could Really Be Causing Your Tight Hamstrings?
Craig Morland | October 13, 2021
Tight hamstrings can be a real problem for anyone with an active lifestyle. You want to go to the gym or you’re looking to get a new personal best at that 10km next week, the only problem is you don’t know if your hamstrings will take it. Well, today I want to share with you our ProSport approach when it comes to dealing with tight hamstrings.
As a physical therapist, I have seen countless patients who have problems with tight hamstrings. They try everything, every hamstring stretch, every standing hamstring stretch but that hamstring injury just won’t budge. They end up missing out because one leg just won’t carry them.
The truth is, if those static stretches aren’t working then they may never do the trick. You can do all the regular stretching you want but there is a risk it won’t hold out. If that is the case you need a solution.
So if you’re still suffering from a tricky tight hamstring, read on and find out what you can do to beat it today.
Read on to find out;
What Are The Hamstring Muscles And Why Do You Need Them?
If you are going to beat those tight hamstrings once and for all then there are some basics of anatomy we should cover.
The hamstrings are made up of three muscles that sit at the back of your thigh below the glutes; the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and the biceps femoris.
Like all muscle groups, the hamstrings work together and with others, such as the quadriceps and hip flexors, to facilitate the everyday movement of our legs. When we run, jump, change direction or weight lift those hamstrings have to play their part.
But just like all other muscles, you need to keep them healthy. That’s why it is vital to stretch your hamstrings after exercise.
A Classic Standing Hamstring Stretch
We have all used that classic hamstring stretch to try to tease those muscles loose. Your spine is in a neutral position, you place your left leg out in front keeping a straight leg and the right knee bent. You gently bend forward, reach out and touch your toes, keeping that knee straight.
Then you repeat the same process with the other leg. Easy right? Well, it isn’t always that simple.
What happens if it doesn’t solve your hamstring problem? What happens if stretching falls short? What happens if prolonged stretching still doesn’t stop tightness?
What Happens If Your Hamstring Stretches Aren’t Working?
Your hamstrings are constantly in use which is why it can be so problematic when you do experience tight hamstrings.
When you do get tightness of the hamstring and experience a reduced range of motion it can put your daily life on hold. You’re constantly aware that they could ‘give in’ at any point during exercise or even a calm walk.
Almost all sporting people will experience tight hamstrings at some point. Most of the time this is not a great concern and will generally wear off with basic hamstring stretching. But sometimes the injury can persist.
Sometimes you perform generic hamstring stretches and still have tightness. You still feel it through the back of your leg and thigh. The stretch just won’t work.
If this is the case then I would want to look at the body as a whole. We would look a little further afield to find what may be causing this long-term tightness.
What Else Could Be Causing Hamstring Tightness?
Here at ProSport Physiotherapy, we use a full-body approach. We understand that your muscles DON’T JUST work in isolation so why should we treat them as if they do
So many people obsess over the core and abdominal muscles, poor posture and standing position, or worry if the right foot or left foot are doing what they should. Of course, these can have some impact but in our clinic, we see one common culprit when it comes to hamstring muscle issues.
From research and experience, we have found that the inability to tilt the pelvis posteriorly can contribute to your tight hamstring issue.
If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Those hamstrings attach into the pelvic region and so the pelvis has a strong relationship with those leg muscles.
So, if your pelvis is struggling to posteriorly tilt and having a knock-on effect on your hamstring flexibility then what can we do?
Well, the inability to tilt the pelvis can be attributed to a number of factors but in the first instance, we would look at the ability of the rib cage to relax in order to drive this posterior pelvic tilt.
A Simple Test To Assess Your Rib Cage
A good test to carry out to see if you can relax your rib cage is to sit down, take a big breath in, then sigh whilst relaxing your back, neck, and shoulders into a slumped position.
When in this position place your hands on the back of your head and tuck your chin into your chest. At this point, you may feel an ache or pull into the back.
If you feel this the chances are your body is protecting itself from this position and requires more work to help depress the rib cage.
This exercise is going to help relax the rib cage whilst bringing the pelvis into the tilt required to relax the hamstrings.
Getting The Right Rehab For Your Hamstring Injury
Ultimately, if that feeling of muscle tension and tightness persists then that hamstring stretch can only take you so far. If you are performing stretching exercises and those muscles are still feeling tight hamstrings then you should always consult professional help or consider physical therapy.
At the ProSport Huddersfield clinic, we know that not every patient is the same, no one will feel pain in the same way and the true cause of the issue may not be identical. We know that for some people just a simple stretch won’t solve their hamstring issue. You have to look at the person and their body.
That is why we always look at you and your body first. We perform an assessment, check your movement and search for the true cause of your issue. We use hands-on and massage therapy to relieve symptoms quickly and safely. But that isn’t the end.
As a physical therapist, getting rid of symptoms is only half of my work. We don’t just want you to be pain-free. We want you to be able to live your life without worrying about your hamstring flexibility or if you’ll seize up next time you’re in the gym.
We want the symptoms to leave and never return
Take Control, Address Your Tight Hamstrings Today
One question I am always asked in the clinic is, ‘how serious is the issue?’. And my reply is always the same.
Whether it’s back pain, low back pain, knee pain, a Hip issue, or tight hamstrings, if it is stopping you from doing something you enjoy, if you have to think twice about going to the gym, walking to the shops, or picking your kids or grandkids up of the floor then yes, it is serious.
Nothing should put a hold on your life. Take control today. If you want help getting back to the activities you love doing pick up the phone and book your appointment today.