Tight hamstrings or weak hamstrings?

A Geelong Myotherapist’s take on why your hamstrings could be so “tight”

I read an article from a fitness blog this morning and came across the old holly grail….. “The stretching routine to cure tight hamstrings.” As a Myotherapist and Massage Therapist working in a sporting town like Geelong for nearly 10 years, I have come across countless hamstring problems ranging from recurring tears, painful tightness and very bad flexibility. The confusing part is that for all the “tight” hamstrings I’ve seen, rarely does the problem go away just from deep tissue massage or sports massage to the hamstring muscle group. So, just what is the exact cause of these “tight” hamstrings if massage alone does not release them? Firstly lets have a quick look at the muscles function.

The hamstrings flex (bend) the knee, most people are aware of that. But the hamstrings play a very important functional role within the hip and pelvis as well. The hamstrings extend the hip and assist in rotating or tilting the pelvis. The last two actions being very important in running and helping maintain a strong lower back and good posture.

The center photo shows how your posture can look due to weak Hamstrings and Glutes

The center photo shows how your posture can look due to weak Hamstrings and Glutes

Myotherapy can fix those tight hamstrings…………

Though you might just need to do some of the hard work too!!

Most people that I see with tight hamstring complaints actually have weak hamstrings or at least have an an imbalance in the hip and pelvic muscles that leads to the hamstring muscle group being placed in a lengthened position even when they are at rest (making them feel tight). Most exercises that we do for our legs whether it be at a boot camp, football training or the gym tend to focus on our knee extensors (Quadriceps) far more heavily than they do on the knee flexors or hip extensors (Hamstrings and Gluteus Maximus). I believe that this imbalance happens for a number of reasons, but mainly the following:

The Hamstrings and Glutes working against or "oppose" the Quadriceps

The Hamstrings and Glutes working against or “oppose” the Quadriceps

  1. It is easier to exercise the knee extensors when cross training or playing sport
  2. Often hip extensor exercises are done with incorrect form, too much weight or both
  3. It is difficult to naturally strengthen the hip extensors through normal cardio based exercise.
Squats are meant to target the hip extensors, but ones performed like this one will strengthen the Quadriceps NB. the first two images on the bottom line you SHOULD NOT have any pressure on your toes

Squats are meant to target the hip extensors like the Glutes, but ones performed like in the photo above will often still recruit the Quadriceps group more than the Glutes.

 

So how do you fix those tight Hamstrings?

Well firstly Myotherapy or Remedial Massage to release your likely tight and contracted Quadriceps, Hip Flexors and lower back muscles (and no they wont feel tight, until you start having them worked on)¬†will speed the process up greatly. Secondly, you need to add a good 5-10 minute hip extensor strength program into your workout routine. You will need to be doing this 3-4 times per week to see results. There are other things that may need to be addressed as each case has it’s own individual needs, but this is a great start.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About

I'm a Myotherapist in Geelong, passionate about providing top quality Myotherapy with a clinical approach, ensuring fast effective results for the patient. Geelong Myotherapy also provides great soft tissue therapy like Remedial Massage to release tired and stressed muscles.

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