Tight Hamstring

One of the most powerful muscles for any athlete is the hamstring. For an athlete, generating force and momentum in sports is key to success. However, when our bodies are not trained properly for explosive or directional movements, the hamstrings can take on an unwanted workload making them susceptible to being tight and overworked.

The hamstrings attach to the hip and knees and are responsible for extending the hip and flexion the knee. The hamstrings are composed of three main muscles: the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris. Hamstrings are pivotal in running, jumping, sprinting, explosive movements, directional changes, and stability for weight lifting. Both overuse or undertraining of the hamstrings can cause gradual soreness, tightness, or even in some cases if gone untreated, cause injury.

Programming workouts to help train and strengthen the hamstrings is vital to injury prevention. For daily and athletic activities, a hip hinge is always the first key component in retraining the hamstrings and preventing injury. A deadlift is essential to learning a proper hip hinge movement while building hamstring and glute strength. Incorporating lying hamstring curls, single leg deadlifts, and even kettlebell swings to help load and build strong hamstrings can pay off long term. Athletes who run or do directional changes in their sport should also introduce short sprinting exercises into their routine. A combination of training slow and fast twitch hamstring fibers can bulletproof your hamstrings for sports.

Man stretching out his legs to releive tight hamstringsA beginner stretch to help relieve that hamstring pain is to perform the standing hamstring stretch. This stre tch focuses on stretching the back of the thigh, specifically the muscles of the hamstring. The convenience of this stretch is that it can be performed anywhere at any time when an athlete’s hamstrings begin to feel tight. Focus on hinging at the hip and leaning backward as you are digging your heel into the ground to effectively reinforce the stretch on the back of the thigh. It is also important that you keep your knee straight to maximize the stretch. It is very common that you will experience tightness and/or pain while you are performing these stretches so use caution. It is recommended that you do these stretches daily to reduce tightness and pain as well as reduce the risk of injury in this area. Ideally, stretches are held for thirty to sixty seconds per side and can be repeated multiple times a day. It is recommended to take at least an hour between stretching the same area if performed more than once daily.

Weak or Overworked?

So you find yourself with chronic hamstring tightness. Before you start cranking on the hamstring curl machine at the gym ask yourself this question: Do my hamstrings hurt because they are too weak to do their job, or are they being overworked to compensate for your weak glutes?

In the modern lifestyle, sitting has caused immense detriment to people’s ability to use their gluteus muscles properly. When our glutes are weak, the hamstrings work overtime to pick up the slack. We see a lot of patients in our office coming in with complaints of lower back pain and hamstring tightness. Your hamstrings may not be weak, they may just need your glutes to start doing their share of the work! If this is the case, a glute strengthening program may be the solution to your hamstring problems. The best system is when your hamstrings and glutes work in synergy with one another.