Are you able to touch your toes? Have you been told you have tight hamstrings or do they always feel tight to you? A lot of people tell me they have tight hamstrings and despite stretching, it doesn’t change a lot. First of all, there’s a difference between the feeling of tightness or stiffness and the muscle actually being too short. I’ve seen clients almost palm the floor and still complain about how “tight” their hamstrings feel! Compare that to the guy who can barely reach his knees when bending forward or barely lift his leg off the floor when lying flat on his back.
So, why do your hamstrings feel tight? Are they holding your pelvis or being used to stabilize your pelvis? You must first figure out why they’re tight before you can improve it.
Here are the 5 major reasons your hamstrings feel tight:
1) You sit all day/have a sedentary lifestyle
2) You workout but don’t go through full ROM or lack a variety of movement patterns
3) You have an Anterior Pelvic Tilt or Posterior pelvic tilt (APT- you’re locked long, PPT- you’re locked short)
4) You need more core activation and core stability
5) You have an old back injury and/or have neural tension
You may have a combination of the issues above and getting evaluated by a health professional can help you determine why your hamstrings feel tight. For example, I may work on changing a client’s pelvic position if they are in a pelvic tilt or performing ART (active release technique) if the hamstrings are truly short and tight. Changing your hamstring tone may necessitate better stabilization of your trunk. The key to how to address your “tight” hamstrings is to figure out why it’s there in the first place. Knowing is half the battle and then you can figure out a solution before it leads to other problems i.e. low back pain.