Tight Hamstrings

I think all of us struggle from some level of muscle tightness either chronically or intermittently, depending on our activity levels. It is just a matter of who takes the time to change it (via stretching/foam rolling/hydration) or those who just accept it as part of who they are.

Chronically tight hamstrings are a common dysfunction I see, especially in people who repeatedly strain their hamstrings and can’t figure out why. There could be many reasons for this, but commonly I see is that the glutes aren’t turning on and as a result the hamstring has to take on this load. Over time, the glutes remain inactive and the hamstrings become shortened/tight. 

Another common cause of chronic hamstring tightness is tight hip flexors. In society today we are sitting way more, and as a result our hip flexors become shortened. This can cause the pelvis to tilt forward putting the hamstrings on a perma-stretch! No amount of hamstring stretching will correct for this, and that’s why I recommend a global stretching approach: stretch the hip flexors, quads, glutes and hamstrings consistently to create a balance. If you do sit a lot for your job, I would spend a little more time stretching the hip flexors! This will help ensure there isn’t any directional pull on our pelvis.

If you have been constantly doing 1 or 2 stretches as part of your routine and aren’t getting any relief think of the bigger picture. What else could be tight based on your daily life or the activities you participate in? If you are stuck, try a broad range of stretches targeting multiple muscles and aim to perform it 3-5 times per week. The problem people face is that we do not stretch enough and don’t hold the stretches long enough (20-30 seconds, 3 times each stretch post-exercise). Use a timer!

The hip flexors can be the cause of a lot of issues: low back pain, chronically tight hamstrings, knee pain. So this is a good place to start stretching!

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