Suffering from chronically tight hamstrings can leave you feeling restricted with robotic-like motions and rigid movements.
How Hamstrings Impact Mobility
The hamstring complex consists of three muscles that run down the back of the thigh, from the buttocks to the back of the knees. This muscle group’s function is to extend the hip and flex the knee, supporting the quadriceps while walking, running, lifting, and doing other physical activities.
Like all muscles, the hamstrings can also sustain injuries that can make daily life difficult. When overused, they can develop painful strains or tears. On the other hand, when underused they can become stretched and weakened. This is often the result of long periods of sitting.
Often, tight hamstrings are merely a symptom of overcompensating for weakness or instability elsewhere in the body, caused by either genetics, lifestyle changes, or other injuries such as back pain.
- Genetics – Some people are genetically predisposed to shorter muscles and might need to regularly give their hamstrings some extra TLC.
- Sedentary lifestyle – Those with desk jobs and long commutes are prone to nerve entrapment due to lack of daily movement. Over time, this can lead to poor posture and weakened muscles all over the body
- Back problems – The hamstrings will often counterbalance pressure and protect the back muscles by contracting and overworking themselves.
Additional injuries can also develop if you fail to address the pain in your hamstrings. Over time, severely stiff hamstrings can subtly alter movement patterns and make the body more susceptible to musculoskeletal injuries. Additionally, when hamstring muscles are constricted, the hips and pelvis rotate backward, flattening the lower back and causing postural and back problems, such as sacroiliac joint pain.
3 Daily Habits for Healthy Hamstrings
The hamstrings are not an isolated limb and are essential for the body’s motor operation. For that reason, tightness will likely go uncured by long sessions of static stretching alone. Fortunately, you can get a leg up on tight hamstrings with these three tips:
Don’t skip leg day! Strength training your core and leg muscles can help support your hamstrings and keep your body balanced. Incorporate a few leg-strengthening exercises like leg curls, dead lifts, and hip extensions into your daily routine to keep all your muscles strong and healthy.
Massaging your muscles is a great way to release hamstring tightness, enable circulation, and can help restore your body’s flexibility. One tool we recommend for self-myofascial release is a simple lacrosse ball. Use the lacrosse ball to target any adhesions in the muscle fascia that may be causing tension.
For fast, effective hamstring relief, stretch your hips and legs Avoid stretching by standing up and reaching for your toes, as this can over-flex the lower back and does a poor job of isolating the hamstring muscle. Instead, try stretching your hamstrings while lying down and bringing your leg up. Here is a helpful demonstration of an effective hamstring stretch you can do at home:
*Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. If you experience any numbness, tingling or reproduction of your symptoms, please contact your doctor. ⠀
- While lying down, place a resistance band under the foot.
- With the band securely placed, raise your leg up by flexing the hip and knee.
- Flex the foot slightly with your toes pointing towards you.
- Slowly straighten the knee by pushing your heel toward the ceiling.
- You will feel a stretch in the back of your thigh.
- Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds, then return to the starting position.
- Complete 3 sets of 30-second holds.
Staying Pain Free
If a hamstring injury has left you sidelined, schedule an appointment with Airrosti. Our providers will identify the true cause of your pain and get you back in the game quickly. We’ll also provide tools and resources you can use at home to stay flexible and prevent future injuries.
If virtual visits are more your style, consider scheduling a remote telehealth appointment. Give us a call at (800) 404-6050 to schedule your virtual appointment today.
Read our Medical Disclaimer here.