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Easy stretches for tight hamstrings

18 May 2023 · 5 mins read

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Learn some easy and necessary routine stretches for hamstrings for better flexibility and mobility.

Hamstrings are the muscles at the back of your thighs responsible for bending the knee and extending the hip.

Tight hamstrings refer to a condition where the hamstrings feel tight or restricted. When these muscles are tight, they can pull on the pelvis and lower back, leading to lower back pain and other musculoskeletal issues.

What causes tight hamstrings?

Tight hamstrings can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Muscles can be less flexible as we age, leading to tightness in the hamstring
  • Muscle strain
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Jobs that require prolonged sitting
  • Insufficient stretching before an intense workout
  • Previous hamstring injury
  • Activities that require a lot of running, kicking or jumping can result in tightness due to overuse

What are the symptoms of hamstring tightness?

Some of the symptoms of hamstring tightness include:

  • Pain in the back of the thigh, especially during physical activities
  • Swelling
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tenderness over the hamstring muscles
  • Limited range of motion

Why is it essential to do hamstring stretches?

  • Improving flexibility: Stretches help improve the range of motion and flexibility, thereby reducing the risk of injury in the hamstring muscles.
  • Improving posture: Tight hamstrings also impact other muscles, such as the glutes in the pelvis. Keeping the hamstrings loose will help you to stand taller and sit straighter.
  • Better mobility: Stretches activating the hamstrings help improve mobility and prevent pain.
  • Preventing injuries: Regularly stretching the hamstrings helps avoid injuries.
  • Improving blood flow: Stretching can also help improve blood flow to the muscles, reducing muscle soreness and promoting faster recovery after exercise.
  • Avoiding lower back pain: Tight hamstrings reduce the mobility of the pelvis. This, in turn, puts pressure on the lower back, causing back pain. Regular stretching prevents the tightening of the hamstrings and gives additional support to your back and pelvic muscles.

How long does it take to loosen tight hamstrings?

Depending on the severity of the tightness and the individual's overall health and flexibility, the length of time needed to loosen stiff hamstrings can vary.

Stretching and exercise may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to substantially improve hamstring flexibility.

A physiotherapist or doctor can provide guidance and a customised treatment plan to help address these issues and gradually improve hamstring flexibility.

What are the best stretches for hamstrings?

  • 1. Stretch for beginners - sitting hamstring stretch
    • Sit at the tip of a chair and straighten one leg forward.
    • The heels should touch the floor, with the toes pointing up.
    • Straighten your spine by sitting tall.
    • Roll the pelvis forward and hold this position for 30-40 seconds.
    • The above steps should be repeated 4-5 times on each leg.
  • 2. Hamstring yoga stretches

    Specific yoga poses are very effective for the hamstring muscles. Regular practice of these poses will help relieve tight hamstrings and improve balance and flexibility. In addition, these are also considered helpful in improving the body’s alignment and posture.

    1. Downward-facing dog (Adho mukha svanasana)
      • Start with the tabletop position.
      • Tuck your toes with inhalation.
      • During exhalation, shift your hips up and back while pressing down your knuckles.
      • Release your heels towards the floor.
      • If you feel tightness adjust the pose by bending your knees.
      • Come back to the original pose while breathing out.
      • Repeat this pose at least 4-5 times.
    2. Upward Plank Pose (Purvottanasana)
      • To start with, get into the previously mentioned bridge pose.
      • Lower your hips to the floor.
      • Place your palms outside of the outer hips.
      • Give pressure to your hands and lift your torso and hips (your shoulders should stack above your wrists).
      • Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and gently release.
  • 3. Lower body stretch for back pain
    1. Hamstring stretch in lying down
      • Lie down on your back on a comfortable firm surface.
      • Lift your right/left leg up into a 90-degree angle with your knee bended.
      • Straighten up your knee until you feel a tolerable stretch at the back of your thigh.
      • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat for 2-3 times each session.
    2. Piriformis stretch in lying position
      • Lie down on your back on a comfortable firm surface.
      • Bend both knees and put your right/left heel on the opposite knee.
      • Place your hand on the opposite leg and pull it towards your body until you feel a comfortable stretch of at back of your thigh and buttock region.
      • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat for 2-3 times each session.
  • 4. Hamstring stretches for runners

    It is extremely essential to loosen your hamstring muscles before a run to avoid any muscle injury.

    1. Frankenstein stretch
      • Stand with your back straight and arms extended in front of you.
      • Gently lift your right leg closer to your extended arm, while maintaining your knee in extension and your back straightened.
      • Bring your foot up as close as possible for your hands to tap it.
      • Repeat the same on your other leg.

Make an appointment at Pantai Hospitals

Speak to your doctor to know more about tight hamstring muscles. The rehabilitation team at Pantai Hospitals are trained to provide the best care for our patients. Because each patient is different and will present with their own set of issues and symptoms, treatment plans are personalised.

A dedicated and expert team of Orthopaedic specialists at Pantai Hospital is available for consultation to provide the best care possible.

Get in touch with us to book an appointment today if you have any concerns or questions about tight hamstrings diagnosis and treatment options.

Pantai Hospitals have been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

References

  1. Are your hamstrings working double duty? Available at https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/are-your-hamstrings-working-double-duty [Assessed on 12 April 2023]
  2. Hamstring Injury Rehabilitation and Prevention in the Female Athlete. Available at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36262421/ [Assessed on 12 April 2023]
  3. Hamstring injury. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hamstring-injury/ [Assessed on 12 April 2023]

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