The Top 3 Reasons You Have Hamstring Tightness
Tyler Reynolds DC
There might not be a more annoying issue to have with your body than hamstring tightness. Located on the backside of the thigh and made up of 3 individual muscles, it’s one of those nagging injuries which seems to never go away no matter how much you stretch. It happens to you time and time again, and just when you get back to the gym from the last time, the slightest of wrong moves causes it to flare up all over again.
I compare your hamstring tightness to a boss with a hard-to-predict mood……. Just when you think you have just won him over and the corner office is yours
………. you’re working Saturday again like a newbie!
Reason #1: Core Instability
The reality of this issue is hamstring tightness will occur in order to protect your spine! Your body is pretty amazing and knows the Central Nervous System (Brain and Spinal Cord) is top priority. If your core muscles and glutes are not being facilitated (turning on), your body will find the next muscle down the chain to do the job…..the hamstrings. This is a very common problem and often misdiagnosed.
Solutions: Core Stability and Breathing Exercises. Once a client can re-establish proper breathing patterns and use their diaphragm effectively, their core muscles will be back “on line” and firing on all cylinders. As a result of the core muscles firing properly the hamstrings will loosen up, and suddenly being able to touch your toes will no longer be a fantasy.
Reason #2: Lumbar Disc Involvement
Back pain + Hamstring pain = A very good chance you are dealing with a bulging or herniated lumbar disc injury. If your pain is radiating from your low back to your hamstring, if the pain is worse in the morning then at night or sitting for long periods of time makes the pain worse…….. Continuing to combat your “tightness” by stretching your hamstrings will make the pain worse in the long run. Tying back into reason #1, core instability is most likely the true reason for the bulging or herniated disc is the first place. The victim is the lumbar spine but the culprit is the lack of core stability surrounding the lumbar spine.
Solution: See a medical professional such as a Chiropractor or Physical Therapist to rule out this issue. Lumbar disc issues can be a very tricky diagnosis. McKenzie Therapy is a very effective treatment option that will centralize the pain and relieve the hamstring tightness and pain. Reason #3: Actual Tight Hamstrings The least likely culprit in the shortening of the hamstring is ACTUAL hamstring tightness. A truly short hamstring takes a lot of sitting with knees in flexion and hips in extension. This is a very hard position to be doing day in and day out for hours. Typically this person will have a tucked under pelvis or “plumber butt” and a lumbar spine that is flat or in extreme cases a reverse curvature. Tight hamstrings are probably the least of this person’s issues.
Solution: Being evaluated with the Functional Movement Screening will reveal this issue. Receiving manual therapy will help tremendously along with dynamic and static stretching exercises.
Bottom line: If there is an underlying problem causing your hamstring tightness, remember the “just stretch it out” approach won’t fix it, and ultimately will only make the issue worse. Seek out the assistance of a professional to determine the true cause of your hamstring tightness and start training SMART instead of merely training hard.