“Why are my hamstrings so tight?” is a frequent topic of conversation among people everywhere, clinic, running groups, local gyms, etc.
Tightness in the hamstrings is very common in today’s society. Because of the increased amount of sitting, we are essentially smashing the groups of muscles together causing tension to build up into the fascia and common muscular connections. This tension hinders the muscle’s ability to contract and relax properly. Thus we have the feeling of “tight hamstrings” Like the peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the bottom of a 3rd grade lunch box; everything was smashed together.
If the above scenario is the sole reason, then manual therapy, self myofascial release (foam rolling/lacrosse ball) will provide huge benefits. However this is usually only one piece to the puzzle.
Another reason for tight hamstrings is the position of the pelvis. If your pelvis is anteriorly rotated, it is pulling the hamstring points of attachment away from one another. Hence they seem tight. So it would make sense why stretching, and foam rolling don’t make much difference.
In order to alleviate some of the tension in the hamstring group, effort needs to focused on reducing the pelvic tilt.
Great ways to reduce the anterior pelvic tilt is to squeeze your butt (glutes) and tighten your abs like you’re about to get punched in the gut. This will approximate the hamstring attachment sites and reduce the tension being placed on the muscle.
Another way is to mobilize and stretch your hip flexor. This is a great demo and explanation of a ‘true hip flexor stretch’.
Combining some self-myofascial release techniques along with the proper stretches and posture cues, you will enjoy some looser feeling hamstrings. You’ll also get the benefit of reducing the compression forces in your low back. Win-Win!
If you’re in the St. Louis area and you want some help dealing with an injury or getting back to an activity you’ve been avoiding, give us a call.