If your hamstrings are always “tight” there is a reason behind it – and it’s not because you’re not stretching. In fact, if you are stretching, it may be making it worse! While this may sound like crazy talk, allow me to explain.
The hamstrings are a group of 3 different muscles. They originate on the pelvis and insert on the lower leg, just below the knee. They are primarily responsible for extension of the hip and flexing the knee. The hamstrings play a vital role in most of our daily activities, which include standing, walking, running, and jumping, but they also play a protective role for nerves and joints.
While there can be many different reasons for “tight” hamstrings, the 3 most common I see in my office are the following:
Nerve Entrapment. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back down into the foot. This nerve moves and flosses through many different structures on its route. Often times this nerve will get glued down, and stick to some of the muscles it comes into contact with in the hip and upper thigh – this includes the hamstrings. When this nerve is prevented from moving properly, and we try to stretch, the body will engage the hamstrings sooner than it would if the nerve wasn’t glued down to protect the nerve from potential harm. This is give off the feeling of “weak and tight.”
Hip Joint Dysfunction. Place your hand on the outside of your hip. Do you feel the bone there? Now, more than ever with our modern day lifestyles, this joint can become compromised by adhesion and scar tissue. The femur is held into the hip socket by a group of ligaments. These ligaments will often form loads of scar tissue after performing repetitive activities or keeping it in place for prolonged periods of time. This scar tissue will then restrict hip motion. With this reduction in movement, the joint is more prone to future injury, the hamstrings help to protect this joint by activating earlier than normal and reduces the range of motion.
Disc Injury. Unfortunately, far too many people are walking around with disc injuries, whether they know it or not. When a disc becomes injured, many simple day to day tasks become more difficult, like trying to stand from a seated position, or bend forward. Any flexion movement, places more stress on the injured disc. Part of the job of the hamstrings is to extend the hip and keep you upright. If we have an injured disc, the hamstrings will try to keep you upright to protect the disc and avoid any unwanted load.
So what can you do?
Often the answer to your problem is simpler than you think. “Tight” hamstrings are a common problem, but can lead to bigger, chronic issues. Catch all solutions like stretching are rarely ever the answer. Start by contacting a local expert to get the correct diagnosis for your problem. Only with the right diagnosis can you finally fix your problem!
If you live in Cedar Rapids or surrounding areas and are constantly struggling with “tight” hamstrings, we invite you to check out our office. The experts at Thrive Spine and Sport can easily diagnose and provide you with the right plan to fix your problem! Call our office at 319-423-0925 or fill out an appointment request by clicking here!
Thanks for reading!