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Stop Stretching “Tight” Hamstrings


Hamstrings are not always “tight” due to short muscles

A lot of people complain of that constant feeling of tightness in their hamstrings. Don’t get me wrong you can absolutely have short hamstrings and benefit from some form of myofascial release to lengthen those short hamstrings. However, if you are the person who is constantly battling that endless cycle of stretching your hamstrings only to get about two minutes of relief before feeling your hamstrings are tight again, you may be doing more harm than good.

Your hamstrings consist of three muscles on the back of your thigh. They attach to your ischial tuberosity (the bone you sit on) and across your knee joint. They function to extend our hip and flex our knee joint.

anterior pelvic tilt

Anterior pelvic tilt

tight hip flexors

Anterior pelvic tilt and lengthening hamstrings

Hamstring tightness and pelvic positioning

Take a look at the first photo above showing what anterior pelvic tilt looks like. Anterior pelvic tilt (APT) is the forward tipping of your pelvis resulting such as a bucket dumping water out the front of it. This is caused by poor posture, lack of exercising your glutes, chronic sitting, just to name a few. Now look at the second photo, this demonstrates what ATP does to the muscles that attach to your pelvis (specifically the HAMSTRINGS). When your hip flexors are tight, the pelvis rotates forward and your hamstrings are actually stretched long or long and tight. You wouldn’t want to stretch a muscle that is already stretched long and tight, would you? The best way I can explain this “long and tight” is by thinking of a rubber band. Stretch it as far as you can and the band itself becomes taut. This is exactly what happens to the muscles of your hamstrings. Making your hamstrings more susceptible to a pull or tear.

How long you sit plays a big role in whether or not you are actually making your hamstrings long and tight. Sitting for extended periods of time tightens your hip flexors, tilting your pelvis forward and adding tension to your hamstrings, pulling them long.

Tight hamstring treatment in Omaha NE

To get to the root of the problem, you need to be assessed by a health care provider. The problem could be due to a number of different factors, but the most common is a mechanical tightness of the hip flexors. If your hamstrings are long and tight this means that instead of stretching the hamstrings, you should actually be working on strengthening them so they can counteract the anterior pelvic tilt position, while also working to mobilize the hip flexors. A great hip flexor stretch we use here at the clinic is the tri-planar stretch show below.

The Behm Muscle & Joint Clinic approach towards tight hamstrings

At Behm Muscle & Joint Clinic we strive to assess and treat the body as a whole. Instead of focusing on the site of pain we look at the body dynamically using movement based tests to breakout areas of dysfunction which may be leading to your hamstring issues. Our treatments will consist of Chiropractic adjustments/manipulations to the pelvis and hip, Myofascial release (Active Release Techniques, Dry Needling, stretching) to tissues that are determined to be overactive or tight and rehabilitation exercises to address muscle imbalances. We strive to provide the most up to date and evidenced based forms of care to the Omaha Metro area from our Clinic in Bellevue, NE. New patients are always welcome at Behm Muscle & Joint Clinic, to schedule a consultation call us at 402-292-1450, or schedule online.

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