“Ooh the hammy’s feeling a bit toight my dude” – Everyone, Every year…. ever.
A tight hamstring is one of those things; either you have one, or, you probably know someone who has one. Either way, it’s one of the most complained about ailments in the body. But what really causes a tight hamstring? I mean everyone’s got an opinion on it, so often there’s a lot of conflicting information out there regarding what to do. Well, that’s why I’m here, your friendly neighbourhood Ex Phys, throwing the #science at you like it’s an empty can.
Firstly, lets tackle what a tight muscle is. Contrary to popular belief, a tight muscle isn’t anatomically or structurally ‘shorter’ than it should be. For instance, when you stretch, you aren’t making the muscle physically longer. Rather, you are simply encouraging your brain to stop trying to protect your muscle – which it does by contracting it all the time. Imagine that stretching is kind of like when you see a nice doggo at the park you don’t know – you must coax the doggo over slowly (e.g stretching) before any relaxed pats (e.g a less tight muscle) are gonna happen.
I imagine many of you have already tried stretching the hamstring to no avail, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this wonderful, excellent piece of writing. And that doesn’t surprise me. You see, a lot of the time the reason your hamstrings are tight all comes down to your pelvis or hip position. Whaaaaat? A combination of lazy muscles and a lack of positional awareness around your hips (proprioception) often lets the pelvis dump forward, looking like a Donald Duck butt. Now this wouldn’t be an issue, except for the fact that it is an issue. Since the hamstrings originate at the bottom of the pelvis, also known as the ischium, they are gonna be put in a S T R E T C H E D position. And that’s why stretching the hammies usually doesn’t work my dude, because you are stretching a stretched muscle.
Thankfully, it’s quite an easy fix. Train those abdominals – train them hard, train them good. Throw some glute stuff in there as well; Abs and glutes are a spicy combo – and strengthening them both are going to help posteriorly tilt those hips and give the hamstrings some breathing room. Even train the hammies; having strong hamstrings gives your brain more confidence in using them.
Now in saying all of this, this is just a possible explanation as to why you are having tight hamstrings. If things aren’t getting any better – e.g you are having shaking or burning pains when stretching – get an exercise professional to have a closer look at those juicy pork cords.