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Stop Stretching Your Hamstrings!

Do you feel like you constantly need to stretch your hamstrings? Do they always feel super tight? Then this is the article for you!

More likely than not, your hamstrings aren't actually tight. They just feel tight. And that is due to your pelvis position. Let's look at this picture below. The yellow star is where the hamstrings attach. When there is a muscle imbalance and the pelvis is chronically tilted forward, back muscles and hip flexors get shortened. But the hamstrings get pulled upward (blue arrow) and put on a stretch. If you lose the ability to get out of this position, then the hamstrings will stay in this position of tension, making you feel like they are constantly tight. But they aren't tight - they are actually being lengthened!

Hip flexor tightness is created due to poor pelvis position, weak hamstrings, and ineffective abdominals.

This position is very common with people who have to sit or stand for long periods of time. I also see this in clients with poor abdominal activation and elevated ribcages. Low back pain, hip flexor pain, IT Band issues and front knee pain are also common pain points that go right along with this posture.

So instead of focusing on stretching the hamstrings, which they don't need because they are already on a stretch, you need to strengthen them. Finding the coordination between the hamstrings and abdominals is key to reducing this pelvis position and restoring you back to a more "neutral" position. My favorite treatment to do this are hip lifts. Hip lifts, particularly in a 90/90 degree position where your knees and hips are at 90 degrees, are a sure way to find your hamstrings and correct a faulty posture.

90/90 Hip Lift from the Postural Restoration Institute

Physical therapist working with a client on hamstring activation in West Ashley, SC

A proper hip lift requires proper position. You should focus on activating the hamstrings while keeping the lower back rounded. A proper posterior tilt of the pelvis should activate hamstrings and lower abdominals. Add a ball between the knees for adductor activation as a bonus. Hold that position and deep breathe for 3-5 breaths focusing on maintaining hamstring activation. Common compensations are activation of the quads, hip flexors, and back extensors as well as lifting up the rib cage.

When hamstrings and abdominals become more active, the pelvis will begin to alter position and reduce tension on hip flexors, hamstrings, and quads. It's all about the relationship and coordination between muscles and how they affect the tension on our joints.

If you are experiencing hamstring pain, IT Band pain, hip flexor tendonitis, or lower back pain, come see us! We won't just treat the injured muscle, but we will will look at the biomechanical root of the issue so you can get back to what you love quickly!


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