Your hamstrings is the collective name for a group of muscles at the back of your thigh. The three muscles that make up the hamstrings start at your pelvis and insert around the knee. The hamstrings are an important group of muscles that help us sit, stand, run, jump - they are involved in pretty much every activity that we do with our legs!
Sometimes our hamstrings can get tight and this can cause a number of problems such as pain in the hips, knees or lower back. It can also mess with our posture making it more difficult to sit or stand up straight.
So what causes tight hamstrings?
Tight hamstrings can be caused by sitting for long periods of time, some forms of exercises (especially if you don’t stretch!), poor movement patterns, poor posture and a lack of core strength.
How do we stretch out this muscle group to maximise the benefits of hamstring flexibility?
Start by lying on your back - try to keep your back in a neutral position but if in doubt gently flatten your back against the ground. Keep one leg out straight along the bed/ground. Bend the other leg to bring your knee up towards your chest.
Place a towel or stretching band around your foot. Whilst keeping your hips on the floor, gently pull your foot towards your head as you try to straighten your knee. Your knee shouldn’t ever get straight, your just resisting in that direction.
If you don’t have a towel or a stretch band thats ok! You can use your hands to hold the back of your calf instead.
When stretching it is important to remember the difference between pain and discomfort. If it helps you can breath out while stretching, the main thing to remember is don’t hold your breath.
You can hold the stretch for as long as feel comfortable but we’d suggest holding for at least 30-45 seconds.
While this stretch is focused on your hamstring it is important to remember the rest of your body too!
- keep your shoulders down and away from your ears
- maintain the neutral spine throughout the stretch
- avoid ‘turning out’ the leg, try to keep it straight so your knee cap is pointing towards your nose
- place a pillow under your head to keep your neck in a good position
If your tight hamstrings are causing you pain or making day to day activities difficult our friendly physiotherapist at FORDESPHYSIO are always happy to give advice on what to do and how to get you back to doing what you love best.