By: Guest blogger Jeff Merrill LMT, BS
“Oh my hamstrings are so tight. I just need to stretch them out more.” Have you ever said this? If so, why do you think you need to stretch them out? The two purposes of the hamstring muscle group are to extend your leg back behind you and to bend your knee. So if you say they are tight, then you must be doing box jumps and/or jump
squats all day.
Wait, you aren't doing those things? Hmmm. Well then, maybe your hamstrings aren't really the issue. Let’s take a step back and look at what actually might be causing those hamstrings to be pulled tight.
1. Belly/Core Weakness
Consider the rotation of the pelvis. If the belly pushes the front of the pelvis down, what happens to the back part? It is going to pull upward. Where are the hamstrings attached? At the back portion of the pelvis. So as the front of the hips go down, the back gets pulled up and a stretch is applied to the hamstrings.
2. Hip Flexor Tightness
This is very similar to the belly weakness. As your hip flexors get too tight, they pull the front of your hips down and the back of your hips up. They also sometimes can rotate the hips into different planes: Right Forward/Left Back or Left Forward/Right Back. What this does is make one hamstring feel tighter than the other.
As the front of the hips get pulled down, the back gets pulled up, making the hamstrings feel stretched. And a stretched muscle (which is weaker) doesn't activate as well as a muscle at normal length. So when a muscle is weak, other muscles that do similar actions start compensating and assisting those movements. Enter the calves. You
have two calf muscles: one that crosses the knee and one that does not. The one that crosses the knee helps to flex or bend the knee, just like the hamstrings. So if the hamstrings are weak, the calf muscle picks up the slack. What can happen is that the calf muscle can inhibit the hamstring movement.
4. Other Reasons
There are a myriad of other reasons, so it is often difficult to pin down exactly what is the cause, but here are a few others:
Come see us and we can help you figure out exactly where your problem areas are and then help you start getting the flexibility back into your legs.
Nicholas Garman, LMT NSCA-CPT
|Kalamazoo Athletic Wellness||
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