Causes Of Tight Hamstrings
The 3 muscles comprising the hamstrings gradually lose their flexibility with age. Tightness begins to develop during early childhood, slowly increasing over time due to a change in elasticity and decreased level of physical activities that involve these muscles.1
In general, women have more flexible hamstrings than men of the same age, which is likely due to anatomical variations in joint structure and also the performance of more rigorous physical work by men, resulting in greater micro-trauma to these muscles.1
Routinely participating in high-intensity sports that involve running, sprinting, and abrupt leg movements, such as basketball and tennis, are common risk factors for hamstring tightness. Sports medicine specialists commonly recommend stretching the hamstrings before engaging in such type of sports while counseling athletes on injury prevention.
Watch:Seated Chair Hamstring Stretch for Sciatica Relief Video
> > > The Shocking Ways Your Tight Hips Are Holding You Back
Many people have tight hips. A tight hip is caused by muscle tension in the hip flexors. These muscles stabilize the pelvis, move the legs sideways, and shorten in order to draw the knees in toward the chest. They are also responsible for poor posture and misalignment of the head. They are located on the front of the inner hip. They are a vital part of the core. If you want to avoid the discomfort and stiffness that can accompany tight hips, here are some tips to keep your hips healthy.
Tight hips can cause lower back pain and difficulty standing up straight. You can also perform a hip flexor test to determine if you have tight hips. You need to lie on a flat surface and have someone hold your leg. If you have a tight hip, your thigh will rise. If you feel pain while bending, you may have tight hips. Try to do some light stretches.
Hamstring Stretches To Relieve Low Back Pain
By: Matt Paulus, MS, ATC, LAT
Are you suffering from low back pain? Do you feel like you have tried all the heating pads, ibuprofen, and massage creams out there? What if you found majority of your relief from a couple of simple stretches?
If you are notoriously a tight person, stretching your hamstrings could be the best medicine to relieve that pesky back pain. The lower back is acted upon and influenced by many muscles that attach to the pelvis and lower torso. The hamstrings are actually one of those groups of muscles.
A portion of the hamstring muscles originates at the lower pelvis and extends down the back of the leg, to the knee. When the hamstrings are tight, they pull down on the pelvis. This results in a rounded lower back. Overtime, this posturing can result in increased lower back pain. Therefore, hamstring stretches for lower back pain are important.
If you start to feel pain down the back of the leg, it could possibly be an irritated sciatic nerve. Hamstring stretches are not a good option with Sciatica. There are other Low back exercises that are better in that situation.
Other Sciatic Nerve exercises can be found HERE.
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Stretch To Increase Flexibility
Incorporate hamstring stretches for lower back pain in your regular workout routine. You can also try self-myofascial release with a foam roller and visit a massage therapist for some sports massage sessions.
1. Standing Hamstring Stretch: From a standing position, bend forward at the hips. Allow your arms to hang down and keep the legs relatively straight, and don’t round the back. Stop when you feel a stretch in the hamstrings, even if your back hasn’t reached parallel with the ground. Overstretching will make your back problems worse.
If you find the standing hamstring stretch to put too much pressure on your lower back, try the seated version.
2. Chair Hamstring Stretch: Sit in a chair and extend your legs straight out in front of you with your heels on the floor. Keeping a straight spine, reach for your toes only until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. You can also do one foot at a time, bending one knee and placing the foot flat on the floor, and reaching for the toes of the opposite extended leg.
3. Foam Rolling:Self-myofascial release with a foam roller uses your body weight to place pressure on tight muscles to help tight muscles release. Place the foam roller under your hamstring and slowly roll back and forth over small sections of the muscle. When you come to a tender spot, hold for 30 to 45 seconds.
> > > Tight Hips Try This
There are several ways to stretch and strengthen your hip flexors. One way to do this is to stand up straight, with your legs hanging over the edge. Lift one knee toward your chest and then relax it over the edge of the table. If you have tight hip flexors, youll lift your leg to your chest, while if your hip flexors are too loose, the leg will remain relaxed.
You can test the strength of your hip flexors by doing simple movements. For example, you should be able to lift your knee to your chest and pull it toward your chest. You should also be able to hold it to your chest without the help of your arms. Insufficient exercise and sitting can cause weak hip flexors. However, they are not the only causes of weak and tight hips. There are some medical conditions that can affect the function of the hip musculature, such as osteoarthritis, spinal surgery, and cerebral palsy.
There are two common types of hip flexors: the anterior and posterior hip. These muscles are located in the hip joint and help the knee rotate. If your flexors are weak, you may have a problem with your psoas. If you have this condition, consult your doctor as soon as possible. The goal of treatment is to avoid activity that can put pressure on the area. But if youre not able to do this, your physician may prescribe medications.
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Low Back Nerve Injury
Muscles require electrical impulses to function. The electrical impulses tell the muscles when to contract and when to relax. This is critical information and is conveyed by the nerves in the low back. These nerves are called the spinal nerves. An uninterrupted electrical signal from the brain to the leg results in a smooth and coordinated contraction of the muscle. A weak or intermittent electrical signal, however, causes muscle dysfunction. Over time if the electrical signal is weak or intermittent chronic muscle tightness occurs. Persistent muscle contraction can also cause tendon injury.
What Can Cause a Weak or Intermittent Electrical Signal?
- Low back disc bulges
- Low back stenosis
Lets Start With Anatomy
The hamstrings are found on the back side of the thigh, one toward inside/one toward outside, and both have attachments from the butt bone at the top to just below the knee joint on the tibia.
The hamstring contributes to bending of the knee and extending your leg back behind your body but also is what prevents your pelvis from falling forward into an anterior tilt.
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Sitting Hamstring Stretch Using A Chair
Image credit: Cooldown, 2012.
Tight Hamstrings Lead To Lower Back Pain
Low back pain remains a serious concern for many people because tracing its root cause is challenging. Some cases stem from a simple muscular issue, so the pain disappears after a few days. However, there are instances when lower back pain develops due to spinal misalignment and tight hamstrings. If you have a similar condition, you likely have sciatica. This means you might need to tap into remedies like upper cervical chiropractic and include exercise for lower back pain and sciatica into your daily routine.
More importantly, you will need to learn as much as you can about tight hamstrings, postural imbalances, sciatica, and lower back pain.
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Here It Is: The Seated Hamstring Stretch
Step 1: Sit down on a soft carpet for comfort. Keep your back straight and bring your knees to your chest . Hold them with your arms and bring your belly area firmly against your thighs. Do NOT move to step 2 unless you are firmly and comfortably maintaining contact between your belly and thighs. Squeeze gently as though you are trying to hold a flat piece of paper in between.
Only your legs will move and NOT your back by using this technique.
Step 2: Hold your feet firmly with both hands. Make sure that you feel that your pelvis and lumbar spine are aligned and engaged with your thighs. Slowly extend your legs out but keep your belly against your thighs. This will preserve your lumbar and pelvic curve together. Maintain a grip on your feet.
You can achieve a real hamstring stretch without back pain this way.
Step 3: Extend your legs slowly inch by inch and as far and as comfortably as you can. Hold for 1-2 minutes.
Step 4: Rest and repeat.
Note: Your legs should be the only part of your body that moves during this exercise your spine should not move! Initially, this is a very difficult movement to perform correctly. In the initial stages, tightness and consequently shortened length of the muscles may prevent you from fully executing the movement. Over time this will improve.
Finally: Remember that you dont have to rush this movement to the last image. It took me weeks to get there with my disc problems. Expect much more time than you would expect but it is worth it.
How To Loosen Hamstrings And Lower Back
Begin by sitting at the edge of a chair. Straighten one leg so your heel is on the floor and your toes are pointed towards the ceiling. Now sit up straight, roll your pelvis forward, and feel a light stretch up in the back of your thigh. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on each side.
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How To Relieve Tight Hamstrings
If your hamstrings are tight then you should talk to your chiropractor. They will be able to advise you on methods that you can use to lengthen them. This should help relieve any lower back pain you may be experiencing.
Lengthening your hamstrings will help your body to move as it should, putting less stress on the spine. Dont assume that your hamstrings are in good shape, practice hamstring stretches regularly. One of the quickest and easiest ways to stretch your hamstring is to simply reach down and touch your toes. Remember to warm up your muscles before stretching though, this will ensure your muscles are working through their proper range of motion and help you avoid cramps or stiffness.
Massage can also help with stretching and loosening muscles like the hamstring. An experienced sports massage therapist will be able to manipulate the muscles, and other soft tissues, relieving any pain and muscle tension you may be suffering.
Contact Backworks now by calling us now on 01702 342329 for more help and advice on tight hamstrings and/or lower back pain.
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Getting The Right Help For Hip Flexor And Hamstring Pain
To reduce the discomfort, these two muscle groups should be exercised in many different ways. This requires several different positions, stretches and movements. It is usually insufficient to perform basic, standard stretch and strengthening methods since they dont necessarily target ALL of the muscles of concern.
Follow this stretch technique for healthier hamstringsThe Low Back Pain Program eBook teaches specific exercises that specifically target the hip flexors and hamstrings among other muscles groups involved. The exercises help the muscles and joints to move in a multitude of directions and positions. These methods teach you how to SAFELY stretch them without risk to your spine.
You can learn better methods of safer stretching than the standard toe touching way that is, unfortunately, harmful to your back.
This variation is key to relief. The Instructional Guide provides careful and progressive methods which allow them to function more effectively and help to reduce the unnecessary stress and burden on the lumbar spine.
This book is a lifesaver for anybody with chronic lower back pain. I have suffered from lower back pain for 6-7 years and nothing I tried provides any meaningful lasting relief. Found this book about 10 days ago and have been following the exercises in this book it is like magic and I have been pain-free for the last week. After many years, I am sleeping well at night and wake up energized and ready to take on the day.
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Why Are Tight Hamstrings Bad
Tight hamstrings can lead to lower back pain, bad posture, imbalances of muscles, and knee pain. If your hamstrings arent flexible enough they will be more susceptible to injury. Once your hammies are tight, other muscle groups will follow resulting in stiff joints and posture problems. For instance, tight hamstrings can lead to tight hip flexors, glutes, and lower back muscles resulting in a posterior pelvic tilt. In addition to tightness, pain, and being prone to injury, tight muscles have reduced performance. Muscles that are tight have reduced blood flow which results in a decrease in capacity of performance.
Essential Tips To Stretch The Hamstring Muscles
It is important to keep the hamstrings loose and flexible to maintain spinal stability and prevent lower back and leg pain. The following guidelines provide safe and effective tips to include hamstring stretches in everyday activities:
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Hips Hamstrings And Lower Back Pain
Thomas A. McNally, MD, orthopedic surgeon and Medical Director at the Chicago Spine Center at Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago, says, The tightness in the hip flexors and hamstrings can alter the alignment of your pelvis this affects the way your spine lines up and can cause low back pain.
Youll find the hip flexors, a group of muscles, around the front of the hips. They go into effect as you move your leg and knee in an upward motion. The hamstrings are muscles in the backs of the thighs that help to flex the knees and extend the hips.
From the perspective of a doctor of physical therapy, Tony Matoska, PT, DPT, CMPT, Clinic Manager for Athletico Muskego, WI and Wisconsin Spine Specialty Program Regional Coordinator for Athletico, notes that tight hips and hamstrings are more likely to affect your lower back than your middle or upper back .
In addition to muscle tightness in the hips, Matoska notes that stiff hip joints can lead to lower back pain. A lack of rotational motion and ability to flex or extend your hip forwards or backwards can affect your walking, running, swinging, and twisting motions and increase mechanical strain on your lower back.
As for hamstring tightness, he explains that this can actually be a side effect of lower back pain. Pelvic position, muscle guarding, and weakness can contribute to your hamstrings feeling tight and be a result of someone’s back pain, he says.
How Should I Sleep With Tight Hamstrings
The best sleeping position for hamstring pain, which affect the back of the thigh, is to sleep with the knee extended, not bent. As chiropractor Ron Rogers states sleeping with the injured part in a position that elongates the healing muscle will minimize the tendency for scar tissue to rob the muscle of flexibility.
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Knowing When You Have Tight Quads
Believe it or not, sometimes even athletes don’t know if their quads are tight. It can be tricky to know for sure, especially if you spend most of your day sitting.
But one thing is certain: The more time you spend in a chair, the tighter your quadsand your lower back muscleswill probably get.
There is no substitute for a trip to your healthcare provider and/or physical therapist. A posture evaluation is the most accurate and reliable way to test your quads.
But what if you’re in a hurry to know? Try doing a few screening tests at home:
- Stand up and push your hips forward. How far forward can you go? What do you feel? Pain may equal tight quadriceps.
- Assume a lunge position, with one leg forward in front of the other and the back leg straight. Ask yourself the same questions from above. And also: How does the front of your hip on the back leg feel?
- Stand with your front leg bent and the back leg straight. Discomfort in the back leg could mean you have tight quads.
- From a kneeling position, arch your back. Now grasp your ankles behind you. Modify the pose to adjust for any pain or joint issues. You may have tight quads if you must prop yourself up or modify the pose to reduce the pain.