Last modified: August 2, 2019
Richard Honaker M.D.View Full Profile
If you have tight hamstrings, there’s a fix. Here’s 4 of the best stretching exercises you can use to get loose.
Most people have something else going on and all that stretching exercise for tight hamstrings can only make situations worse. You may believe it or not, but the prescription for successfully dealing with tight hamstrings does not involve any hamstring stretching exercise at all.
Tight Hamstrings Anatomy
The muscles of your thigh are composed of your quadriceps and hamstrings. They both work together to stabilize your hips and knees. The quad muscles in the front are larger, more frequently used, and a more dominant muscle group. Your hamstrings in the back are smaller and weak compared to the quads which makes it more prone to injury.
You have three hamstring muscles. They connect at the top end at the back of your pelvis near your sit bones. Then they go their separate ways and connect on either side of your knee. Strong hamstring muscles give protection for the ligaments in the knee joint and keep them from getting stressed out.
Sitting for large portions of the day or spending a lot of time in hip flexion will make your quads and hip flexors get tight from being in a shortened position. This causes the muscles at the front of your hips and thighs to pull on the front of your pelvis tipping it slightly down and forward.
And because something’s gotta give, it pulls on the top of your hamstrings that create a tug of war situation in your pelvis. Your hamstrings being the smaller and weaker muscle group usually lose the battle and results to being overstretched and you get to feel tight hamstrings.
Short hamstrings are not the common cause of that nagging feeling of tight hamstrings the culprit is most likely the combination of short quads and overstretched tight hamstrings. Hamstring stretching exercise may feel good at the time but it may only be giving you the illusion of more space.
This is the reason why chronic high hamstring strains are a commonly reoccurring issue among those who complain of tight hamstrings. The more you stretch them, the looser and weaker they become. The more you do those stretching exercise, the more it worsens.
Stretching Exercise Solutions
The best way to deal with tight hamstrings is to add mobility exercise that will loosen up your quads and target strengthening your hamstring. You can do this with Foam Roll. Get your trusty foam roller and roll out your quads for 2-3 minutes. Get deeper into the tissue by rolling each quad separately.
Stretch Your Quads by doing two stretching exercises:
- Kneeling Quad Stretch. Go to a half kneeling position with your right knee on the floor under your hips and put your left foot on the floor in front of you. Use your right hand to grab your right foot or ankle to pull it closer to your hips. Sink into the stretch.
- Prone Quad Stretch. Lie on your tummy with your right elbow under your right shoulder and your forearm should be parallel to your chest. Bend your left knee and reach back with your left hand to hold your left foot. Press your pubic bone down toward the floor as you pull your foot closer to your left hip. Keep your left knee in position while pointing straight behind you.
Strengthen Your Tight Hamstrings by doing two exercise moves:
- Good Mornings. While standing, place your feet between hip and shoulder width distance apart. Interlace your hands behind your head and keep your elbows out wide. Brace your core and push your hips back until your torso is just a bit above parallel. Push your hips forward to return to standing. Once you start getting good at this exercise, you can even add a dumbbell at your chest, a barbell behind your neck, or a long resistance band under your feet and around the back of your neck.
- Stability Ball Leg Curls. Have yourself laid on the floor with your palms down beside your hips. Put your feet on top of the stability ball with your legs extended. Bend your knees and dig your heels into the ball to roll it toward you. Extend your legs to roll the ball back out. Keep your hips lifted throughout the movement. To take it up a notch, do one leg at a time with the other leg extended up toward the ceiling.
Now that you’ve learned that stretching exercise is not good for your tight hamstrings and that there are better exercise moves that are more appropriate for dealing with tight hamstrings, you are closer to getting that much-needed comfort in your hamstrings. Just be diligent in doing the mentioned moves and stretches and don’t overdo it. It is always recommended to talk to a doctor.
Submitted by Dr. Richard Honaker: http://www.independentmedicalexaminer.com/IME-Directory/Virginia/Dr-Richard-A-Honaker-MD.asp
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