Hamstrings Strung Out?
Are your hamstrings feeling strung out?
Tight hamstring muscles are common and most of the time will not cause a problem.
However, they may be more prone to severe strains or contribute to other problems such as back pain. In addition to an increased injury risk, tight hamstrings may affect sports performance making some techniques difficult or impossible such as squats and deadlifts. Forcing a muscle to move at speed outside of its comfortable range will increase the chance of a muscle tear.
The hamstring muscle group consists of the semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris muscles. Tight hamstrings can cause the hips and pelvis to rotate back, flattening the lower back and causing back problems. Tight hamstrings can also be responsible for postural problems and other back problems such as sacroiliac joint pain, as they will tend to pull the pelvis out of normal position.
If your muscles have tightened up then blood has been squeezed out of them therefore your muscles are working and your performance will be down as a result. Regular massages and stretching will not only reduce the likelihood of injury, but will also improve performance.
The causes of tight hamstring muscles are varied. Genetics are one reason. You can be born with naturally short hamstrings when some people are naturally supple. In general, women and children are suppler than men.
If you participate in a lot of sport and do not stretch properly then you are more likely to have your hamstrings tighten up. It is especially important to stretch properly after exercise as this is when the muscles are warm and more receptive to stretching. If you tend to make a beeline for the shower after your workout, think about spending 10 minutes stretching first.
Problems in your lower back can put pressure on your sciatic nerve which runs down the legs and cause muscles to tighten. The normal range of hip flexion measured when laying flat on your back and raising the leg straight off the floor knee straight permitted by the hamstrings is in the region of 80-90 degrees. Anything less than 80 degrees is considered tight.
Even if you are not naturally supple you can still improve your flexibility by stretching and regular massages. Watch these short videos and pick your favorites to do every day:
Touch your toes: youtube.com/watch?v=2pM0SWr1peA