Tight Hamstring Muscles
The hamstring group of muscles are 3 long muscles (biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus) that cross 2 joints, the hip and the knee. Your hamstring muscles in the back of the thighs, quadriceps muscles in the front, and adductor muscles on the inside of the hips and upper legs are responsible for the legs' multi-directional movements. The hamstring group is primarily responsible for bending the knee and extending the hip. They are used most during running, especially at higher speeds.
Having tight hamstring muscles is a common complaint from runners, and other active people, as well people who sit at a desk all day. When hamstrings tightened up, there is less blood flowing through the muscles which prevents them from working at 100%. By improving blood flow you will loosen your tight muscles, allowing you to use your hamstrings to their full potential.
Limited athletic performance may be a mild consequence of having tight hamstrings, however, a group of tight muscles is more prone to injuries such as strains, pulls, and tears. Tight hamstrings can also cause the pelvis and hips to tilt backward resulting in a flattened lower back and poor posture. This can create problems in the sacroiliac joint or back causing further pain.
To measure the tightness of the hamstring muscles, check the range of your hip flexion. Lay flat on your back and raise your leg off the floor keeping your knee straight. The normal range for hip flexion is 80-90 degrees; if it is less than 80 degrees the hamstring muscles are considered tight.
Tight Hamstring Causes
- Not stretching before or after activity - When your muscles are warm after activity it is most important to stretch properly to prevent the muscles from tightening up as they cool.
- Prolonged sitting while working - Hamstring muscles that contract for a long period of time can easily lose flexibility.
- Genetics - Some people, more predominantly men, are born with short hamstring.
- Lower back problems - Pressure on the sciatic nerve, which runs down the back of the leg, can cause the hamstrings to tighten.
- An inactive lifestyle - Inactivity and sitting for long periods causes the hamstrings to lose flexibility.
Tight Hamstring Symptoms
Tight hamstring muscles do not have many symptoms, however, there may be physical indicators that suggest you have tight hamstring muscles.
- A sway back (improper posture)
- Inability to keep your legs straight while bending at the hips
- Pain in the buttock while sitting
Treating Tight Hamstring Muscle
Tight hamstring are frustrating to live with especially when trying to run or participate in sports. Regular massaging and stretching of the hamstrings is a great way to loosen the muscles to prevent tightness, as well as preparing them before activity. There are also home treatment options - passive hamstring stretching (assigned by your physician or physical therapist), and most importantly, the Leg T•Shellz Wrap® - a powerful home treatment medical device to heat soft tissue (ie. your hamstring).
Heat from the T•Shellz Wrap® stimulates local blood flow in the area, temporarily improving the body's localized healing response to help rehab damaged muscles, tendons and ligaments. Heat from a T•Shellz treatment will increase flexibility and length of your hamstrings and tendons, so if you apply a T•Shellz Wrap® before activity, you will reduce the risk of straining your hamstrings (and other soft tissue) as the treatment has "warmed them up". Over time, increased stretching without the accompanying re-straining will give you the ability to achieve longer hamstrings, reducing the risk of hamstring muscle injury and chronic tightness.
Learn more about Tight Hamstring Treatments by clicking here
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