Simple Stretches for Tight Hamstrings

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Simple Stretches for Tight Hamstrings
Simple Stretches for Tight Hamstrings

How do you loosen tight hamstrings?

Tight Hamstrings are loosened by stretching, remedial massage and mobilization tools. The definition of a good stretch is one that only stretches the target muscle and protects all other structures, especially your spine and can be easily progressed to a stronger stretch.

The setup of this stretch is particularly important because if you do not do what is recommended you may put pressure on your spine or not stretch the muscle very effectively. If you have a hot pack or are willing to buy one a warm muscle stretches much faster than a cold one, alternately have a hot bath before you do it.

Start by standing next to a table. To Stretch the left leg put your left foot up on the table preferably on a towel, hold on to a chair to help you keep your balance.

Have the right foot that is going to be on the floor pointing at your left foot on the table, this locks your pelvis which protects your spine from the strong forces of the stretch.  Most other stretches have the foot on the ground pointing out at a 45-degree angle which puts your spine at risk by unlocking your pelvis. Some stretches you see on the internet even suggest you bend your back to increase the stretch which is very damaging to your spine and could cause back pain.

Make sure the right knee is pushed back as far as it would normally be if you were standing. If you cannot do that the table is too high and you should put your foot on a chair or other lower structure.

Stand straight so your spine is in a relaxed position, you should feel a strong pull on the left hamstring. If not slide the foot that is on the table away from you whilst keeping your back and knees straight. The more you slide away from yourself the stronger the stretch will be. Breathe deeply while you are stretching as this will help relax the hamstring so it can be stretched easily. Hold the stretch for the first time for one minute as you do it more you can extend the period of stretch to whatever you feel is helpful.

What are tight hamstrings symptoms? 

  • Backward rotation of the pelvis, flattens the lumbar spine and causes back pain
  • Poor standing posture puts the whole body under stress
  • Sacroiliac dysfunction and pain
  • Pain and stiffness at the back of the leg when it is put under stretch, like tying shoelaces
  • Reduced range of movement of the hip joint flexion, such as in straight leg raise
  • Cramping
  • Local swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness
  • Redness

What are tight hamstrings causes? 

  • Prolonged sitting causes the hamstrings to remain in a shortened length for too long
  • Lower Back pain can cause referred pain and muscle tension into the Hamstrings
  • Over use of the muscle like running, cycling and climbing stairs
  • Weak Glutei (butt) muscles cause the Hamstring to over work to compensate for that weakness
  • Tears or other injuries of the muscle will cause it to tighten
  • Pelvic -SIJ mal-alignment will cause uneven pull on the hamstrings and tightness
  • Genetics, Some families have tight hamstrings

Treatments

  • Hot baths and stretches like the one at the beginning of this page
  • Mobilization Tools like the one to the right
  • Physical Therapy
  • Remedial Massage
  • Strengthening Exercises deadlifts, squats, lunges and step ups
  • Ice or hot packs to reduce inflammation
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Surgery if the muscle is torn and forms a bunched up knot in the muscle on contraction