Fixing Your “Tight” Hamstrings

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

One of the most common complaints among our athletes (competitive and general pop) is the feeling of “tight” hamstrings.

The reason I am putting quotes around tight is that in most cases the athletes hamstrings are not actually tight, but rather they are relatively stiff. Not only are they usually not actually tight or short, but the hamstrings are lengthened due to an anterior tilt of the pelvis. When the pelvis is in a position of anterior tilt, the hamstrings are put on stretch (lengthened) and give a feeling of a tight hamstring.

There is a constant battle taking place at the pelvis and when the pelvis is pulled out of alignment, or the muscles controlling the hip (hamstrings, erectors, hip flexors, CORE, etc) are not activating at the correct time in the correct fashion, the pelvis will be pulled out of optimal alignment. When this happens injuries such as back pain, hamstring strains, abdominal strains, etc are more likely to occur and performance will  be compromised.

Coming back to the hamstrings and the “tightness,” what is usually taking place is a reliance on the hamstrings to control or stabilize the pelvis because the deep core musculature is not doing its job properly. This causes the hamstrings to work overtime and places more tension on the hamstrings, ultimately causing a feeling of “tightness.”

Watch the video below to better understand the concept of relative stiffness and hamstring “tightness.” You will also learn how to check if you actually have tight or stiff hamstrings. Then read below to see how you can fix your tight hamstrings.

If you discover that your hamstrings are actually tight or short, some static stretching of the hamstrings is encouraged post training.

With many cases, when you find that you have a stiffness issue, the best way to fix your “tight” hamstrings is to “relax” the hamstrings and stiffen the core through proper core training…and this is how.

1) Foam roll: foam roll the hamstrings in order to decrease hamstring activity…check out the video at the end of this POST on how to foam roll.

2) Train the core properly: Proper core training starts with activation patterns for the deep musculature (supine core taps, bent knee fallouts, etc…for more info leave a comment below) and then you must perform exercises that target the core the way it was designed to work. Check out this POST for a few exercises that efficiently target the core.

After a few weeks of “shutting down” the hamstrings and “turning on” and strengthening the core you should notice a marked decrease in hamstring “tightness.” With less stiff hamstrings and a stronger core you will experience greater comfort throughout your day, reduce your potential for injury and enhance overall performance.

Do you suffer from hamstring tightness? Leave a comment below…or any questions for further clarification.

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