Our 4 Favorite Hamstring Stretches
“My hamstrings have always been tight”. This is something I hear all the time when working with patients.
It’s generally spoken with a tone of cynicism that nothing can be done to change that. Does that sound like you?
Well, then stick around.
This blog might be perfect for you.
Why Your Hamstrings Are Tight
Yes, there may be a genetic component here; I am not discounting that. However, the reason why your hamstrings are perpetually tight probably has more to do with environmental factors and poor instruction than anything else.
Let’s break this down one at a time:
Like me, I’m sure you work through your computer hours upon hours during the day, and despite being told to stand at least in part while you work, I’m sure you find yourself “in the zone” more often while sitting than anything else.
I know, at least I do. With that said, while you are sitting, your hamstrings are in a shortened position, and any muscles that are in a shortened position for a disproportionate amount of time are going to want to stay in that position.
Therefore, you can’t expect that to change unless you recognize it’s happening and become proactive about changing it.
Just because your hamstrings are short (due to sitting) does not mean that they are strong. Unless you are a weightlifter, runner, or genetically blessed, your hamstrings are probably weak.
That’s ok because, like recognizing that sitting is affecting your flexibility when sitting – if you can expose it, you can correct it.
If your hamstrings are weak, there is no way the brain will allow them to lengthen to the end range because to over stretch the muscle will put your at a higher risk of injury.
So, in reality, the brain might be keeping your muscles tight to protect you from injury instead of leaving you susceptible to it.
Let me give you another example.
Let’s just say that my shoulder is weak from an injury and all I’ve been instructed to do is keep my elbow pinned to my side.
Now let’s say that I wanted to throw a football with my son before the game on Sunday. My injured and healing shoulder is my throwing arm.
The throwing motion takes my arm through full and extreme ranges of motion.
Do you think my brain is going to allow me to do that while I’m healing?
No, my tissues will want to be tight until I have adequate capacity to meet the imposed demands.
Hopefully, that comparison provided a little more clarity, or if it made you more confused, I’m terribly sorry.
The point is that stretching alone might not work. The muscle needs to be strong enough to handle the stretch.
Top 4 Hamstring Stretches / Flexibility Drills
Below I am going to demonstrate 4 flexibility drills that I use with my patients every day. This should be done in order and at the sets and reps prescribed below.
#1: Hamstring Foam Rolling: 1-2 minutes for each side
#2: Eccentric Hamstring Slides: 3 sets x 5-10 reps
#3: Hip Hinge: 20 reps
#4: Hamstring Stretch: 3 sets x 30 seconds on each side
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. If you are currently experiencing hamstring pain, the best thing you can do is get it assessed and treated right away. The longer you wait, the longer it will take to recover and the more time you would’ve lost. We have 3 Seattle locations and 1 Portland location to serve you.