What Treatments to Consider for Tight Hamstrings
Tight hamstrings are usually not a cause for concern but left unchecked, they can absolutely wreck your body posture and alignment.
We should always start with a strong foundation of maintaining good posture throughout the day, working on our flexibility and mobility and strengthening the muscles that support our body.
Strengthen The Posterior Chain
The posterior chain is the most influential muscle group in the body.
The posterior chain is quite simply the backside of the body including part of our core musculature.
Its primary muscles include the lower back, glutes, hamstrings and the calves. Other muscles include the trapezius, posterior deltoids and latissimus dorsi, transvere abdominus and diaphragm.
All these muscles play an essential role in our ability to move and stabilize, and therefore not only affect our day to day movements but also our athletic performance.
Therefore, to truly overcome your tight hamstrings, you'd want to make sure that you are activating and strengthening these muscles.
Some of the best exercises to maintain the health of these muscles include:
- Weighted or Body Weight Squats
- Weighted or Body Weight Lunges
- Extension based exercises
- Hip Thrusters
Fix Your Posture & Alignment
Because the hamstrings attach to the top of the back of the pelvis when sitting, sitting itself contributes to tightness. The problem isn’t necessarily the inactivity, but a faulty position that we place our body in.
If the pelvis is tilted too far forwards, as is often the case when seated, this puts the hamstring in to a lengthened and weakened position. This inevitably results in us ‘feeling tight’, yet the muscle is actually long.
This is a very important concept to understand. When we feel tightness, the muscle itself may not be shortened or tight, but rather lengthened and inactive.
The solution therefore is to not stretch or lengthen the muscle further, but to change or correct our position and strengthen the muscle.
True Tightness or Shortened Muscles
Though the need to stretch hamstrings is not the most common cause of tightness, there absolutely occasions where we need to stretch our hamstrings.
In these cases, rather than just folding forward and grabbing your ankles, you'd want to focus on a low-load, long duration type of stretching.
This involves gently restoring muscle range using braces, beanbags, resistance bands, splints and pillows.
A few examples would include:
- Lying hamstring stretch with a band
- Seated hamstring stretch while on a chair
- Downward Dog
- Bended knee hamstring stretches