Ah, the hamstring. The indicator of our flexibility. For those of us with loose, relaxed hamstrings - congratulations! It’s not always easy to get those tendons loose. However, for those of us with hamstrings tighter than a rubber band around a watermelon, it may be a little daunting (and painful) to try to loosen them.
Tight hamstrings are shockingly common, mostly because many people have desk jobs and don’t like to stretch. Sitting for extended periods of time, engaging in activities that require repetitive motion, or even just stressing out a lot can cause tight hamstrings - so you can imagine why a huge chunk of the population deals with it.
Luckily for all of those people with tight hammies, we’ve got just the solution - easy, relatively non-painful stretches, breathable sleeves, and more!
We’re gonna cover the causes, the health risks, and the best ways to relieve your hamstrings of some of that strain.
Let’s get stretching!
What Causes Very Tight Hamstrings?
We covered this a bit in the intro, but here’s a little more detail. Again, hamstrings can tighten pretty easily, and from lifestyle to genetics, there are a lot of factors at play. Here are the most common causes:
Sedentary Lifestyle: Got a 9-to-5 desk gig? Sitting for long hours in front of a computer or a desk is one of the leading causes of tight hammies.
Not Stretching: Yes, we know - for those of us with tight muscles, stretching can really be tough. However, not stretching regularly (or before/after a workout) really does a number on your hamstrings!
Imbalance: Muscle imbalances in the body, particularly in the lower body, can cause tight hamstrings. If you find you’re leaning on one leg more than the other, it may cause your hamstrings to tense up.
Sports and Activities: Sports or activities that involve a lot of running, jumping, or sudden stops can cause tightness in the hamstrings. Soccer, football, basketball, etc.!
Age: As we age, our muscles lose elasticity, which can lead to tightness in the hamstrings. That’s why it’s best to jump on this issue as soon as you can.
Genetics: Sometimes you just come out the gate with tight hamstrings! Annoying, but that’s reality!
Health Risks of Tight Hamstrings
Having tight hamstrings isn’t just annoying during a yoga class or when you’re trying to convince your friends that you can touch your toes. It also causes quite a few health issues as well!
Here are the main risks and symptoms:
Back Pain: If you’ve got regular lower back pain (mild or more), a big contributor could be your hamstrings! This tightness can cause lower back pain by pulling on the pelvis, which can alter the natural curvature of the spine. Bummer!
Knee Pain: Tight hamstrings can cause the knee joint to overcompensate, leading to regular knee pain.
Strains and Sprains: Tight hamstrings are more prone to strains and sprains, particularly during physical activities that require sudden movements. Stretching too fast or engaging in activities that you haven’t stretched for can really hurt your hammies!
Poor Posture: Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, it turns out that tight hamstrings can lead to poor posture, which can affect balance and coordination, and even lead to falls.
Reduced Mobility: Finally, tight hamstrings can limit mobility, making it difficult to perform everyday activities, such as bending, sitting, and walking.
Alright, we get it - having tight hamstrings causes a lot of problems. But hey, no sweat - we’ve got the cure in the form of some easy stretches!
How to Relieve Tight Hamstrings: 5 Easy Stretches
Easy is a little misleading because those of us with tight hamstrings know that even the “easiest” stretches can be a (literal) pain. Is anything truly easy? Not sure, but either way, here are some great beginner stretches. Try to incorporate them into your day-to-day routine - it should only take a few minutes!
Forward Fold: Everyone knows this one! Stand with your feet hip-width apart and fold forward, hinging at the hips. Let your head and arms hang loose and hold for 30 seconds.
Seated Forward Fold: The same as above, but - you guessed it - you’re sitting down! Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you. Reach forward and try to touch your toes, holding the stretch for 30 seconds.
Lizard Pose: Not nearly as fun as it sounds, unfortunately. To do this, you’ll need to start at a high plank. From the high plank position, step your right foot forward, placing it outside your right hand. Lower your left knee to the ground and walk your hands forward, holding the stretch for 30 seconds.
Reclining Hand-to-Toe Pose: Lie on your back with your legs extended. Lift your right leg and hold onto your big toe with your right hand. Straighten your leg as much as possible and hold for 30 seconds before switching sides.
Downward Dog: Speaking from experience, this is probably the most challenging one - but so worth it for your hammies. Start in a high plank position and lift your hips up, creating an inverted V shape with your body. Pedal your feet to stretch both hamstrings evenly, holding the stretch for 30 seconds.
Incorporating these back of leg stretches can help alleviate tightness and improve mobility in the hamstrings! Remember to stretch regularly and consult a healthcare professional if you experience severe pain or discomfort. We’re just blog writers, after all!
Should You Use Support Sleeves for Your Hamstrings?
For our recommended hamstring stretches, try the Full-leg Sleeve. It covers the entirety of your leg, making sure your hamstring is completely covered - from your thigh to your ankle! Plus, it’s breathable, copper-infused, and moisture-wicking for all-day use.
If you’re not feeling a full sleeve, our Powerknit Knee Sleeveis great for some back-of-knee protection. Like the full-leg sleeve, this knee sleeve is breathable, copper-infused, and moisture-wicking! Your legs, your choice!
Common Questions about Tight Hamstrings
Any other questions? We compiled the most frequently asked Q’s about hamstrings on the net. We hope this helps!
What are the Best Stretches for a Pulled Hamstring?
Pull your hamstring? Ouch! You’re not alone, though. Pulled hamstrings are a common injury that typically occur when the muscles in the back of your thigh are stretched too far or torn. This type of injury can be caused by various factors, including overuse, inadequate warm-up, and poor flexibility.
If you have pulled your hamstring muscle, it is important to take steps to help your body recover. Even our bodies need to chill out sometimes, right? And what’s a great way to take care of your body?
That’s right, more stretching! Here are the best stretches for a pulled hamstring:
The Reduced Hamstring Stretch: Lie on your back with your legs straight out in front of you. Slowly lift one leg off the ground and gently pull it towards your chest, keeping your knee straight. Hold for 15-30 seconds and then release. Repeat with the other leg.
Wall Hamstring Stretch: Lie on your back with your buttocks against a wall. Extend your injured leg up the wall, keeping your knee straight. Hold for 15-30 seconds and then release.
Standing Hamstring Stretch: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step forward with one foot and bend your knee slightly. Lean forward from your hips, keeping your back straight, until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Hold for 15-30 seconds and then release. Repeat with the other leg.
Chair Hamstring Stretch: Sensing a pattern yet? Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Extend one leg in front of you and rest your heel on the ground. Lean forward from your hips, keeping your back straight, until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Hold for 15-30 seconds and then release. Repeat with the other leg.
When doing these stretches, it is important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. If you feel any pain or discomfort, stop immediately and seek medical attention if necessary.
In addition to stretching, it is important to rest your injured hamstring and avoid activities that may aggravate the injury. You may also consider applying ice to the area to help reduce swelling and pain. Again - your legs, your choice!
How Long Does it Take for Hamstrings to Loosen Up?
This depends, but for those who stretch and/or engage in physical activity daily, you can start seeing small changes and results in about 1-2 months. Again, this depends on your lifestyle! If you’re sitting at a desk all day and putting in zero effort, chances are your hamstrings will reflect that.
Can You Massage Out Tight Hamstrings?
According to the Sports Injury Clinic, yes! Massaging your hamstrings can help them relax, loosen up, stimulate blood flow to the area, and break down any formed scar tissue. This alone can increase flexibility (though we recommend stretching, too)!
Do Tight Hamstrings Mean They are Weak?
According to Geelong Myotherapy, this is often the case. According to their research, what is often assumed to be pain from tight hamstrings may in fact be pain from weak hamstrings that need a little more use (which causes tightness as well).
So the real answer to this is that more often than not, weak hamstrings and tight hamstrings go hand-in-hand!
Hope this helped you loosen up! Tight hamstrings can be super painful, but if you’re willing to incorporate even a few of our suggestions into your routine, you should start feeling better in a jiffy! If you’re looking for more info, tidbits, trends, and deals, check out our website and blog!
Now get stretching!
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