Chronic Hamstring Tightness  

Do you know how many times I hear "My hamstrings are so tight?". I could literally write a book describing the different stretches, treatments, icing, heating and other healing methods that people have tried to no avail.

The wonders with ART can actually fix the problem so it never comes back. It entails treatments with a qualified ART provider, time to rehab the muscles and a don't give up attitude.

It's not your hamstring's fault. It's all about the glutes. They are the problem. They are the ones who are causing the hamstring tightness and discomfort. Why? Well, most of us sit all day at work. This causes the glute muscles to be on a permanent stretch. We all know what happens when a rubber band is put on a permanent stretch - it loses its elasticity. Well the same situation occurs with the glutes. They start losing their firmness and start to sag! The glutes are responsible for keeping our posture straight and for walking. If they are saggy and not functioning properly, then which muscles are going to help? You guessed it ! The hamstrings. So, when therapists continuously hammer away at working the hamstrings, they are not the cause of the problem. They are tight to help keep our posture erect and help with walking.

Fixing the glutes are the key to fixing chronic hamstring tightness.

A major help that one can do at any time throughout the work day is simple. Get up and walk around! By getting up every 15 minutes or so, it doesn't allow the glute muscles to lose their "elasticity". Go use the restroom, wash your hands, drink a glass of water. Getting up every so often changes the routine and gets the muscles to move.


Hamstring tightness has been documented in 75% of all cases of Scheurmannsí disease.
Excessive hip flexion forces decreasing lumbar lordosis and leading to increasing thoracic
flexion (1). This increases the anterior forces on the discs producing mechanical and
pathological changes. Similar muscle imbalance can aggravate vertebral disc
degeneration in the older population. It is therefore important to check for hamstring
tightness in all patients with back pain.

Relieving Chronic Low Back Pain

As simple as it seems, many people with chronic low back pain can improve and even fully heal their backs by doing one simple thing: stretching their hamstrings.
Your hamstrings are the muscles that run along the back of your thighs, from behind your knees to the bottom of your pelvis. If your hamstrings are tight, they are causing a constant downward pull on your pelvis. Since your pelvis is the foundation of your lower back and spine, having tight hamstrings contributes to an unstable lower back and a greater chance of intermittent sprains and strains.
In my chiropractic practice, I estimate that at least 80 percent of people who present with lower back pain have tight hamstrings as the root of their problem. Even if these people have their lower backs treated on a regular basis, they will continue to suffer from intermittent lower back pain if they do not address their hamstring tightness.
How do you know if your hamstrings are tight? The best way to assess hamstring length is to lie flat on your back and have someone slowly raise one leg. Your leg must be completely relaxed, and you must not help lift the leg with your own muscles. If your hamstrings are at an appropriate length for your body, your leg can be raised to 90 degrees off the ground (straight up towards the ceiling) without any significant tightness anywhere along your hamstrings from behind your knee to your sitting bone (pelvis). If you start to feel tightness before 90 degrees, you know itís time to stretch!

A simple and effective way to stretch your hamstrings is to sit in a hurdlerís stretch Ė with one leg tucked behind your bum, and one leg flat on the ground, outstretched in front of you -and to lean forward slightly until you feel a stretch anywhere along the back of your thigh or knee. It is important to keep your back straight, and to only go to a point where you feel a comfortable stretch. If you experience pain, ease back until you are comfortable. Some people find that slinging a towel around their outstretched foot and holding onto both ends with their hands is more comfortable than bending forward without a towel. Be sure to breathe while you stretch, and to do the same stretch for your other leg.
It is best to stretch your hamstrings later on in the day, or after a good warm up such as after a brisk walk or jog. The key is to get lots of blood going through your muscles before you stretch. Alternating between legs for a few minutes each day is enough for most people.
Many people with chronic lower back pain can experience dramatic improvement after stretching their hamstrings on a daily basis for 1-3 months.


Chronic Hamstring Problems

Do you have chronic hamstring problems?

Chronic hamstring problems can be frustrating for anyone, especially if you are active. The standard treatment usually involves stretching, but this often is not enough. Recent scientific studies have shown us that the hamstrings are continuous with the ligaments in the pelvis and the low back muscles. It is essentially one structure. Anything that makes part of this structure shorter will make hamstring problems keep coming back.

How does this happen?

Almost anything can cause chronic hamstring problems. Some of the most common include:

  • Lack of flexibility
  • Low back tightness
  • Old hamstring injuries
  • Sitting all day long

What does Dr. Glenn Hyman do to treat this?

Treating chronic hamstring problems usually begins with checking the hamstrings, pelvis and low back for muscles and ligaments that have become short, stiff and painful. Since all of these areas are involved in moving and supporting the body, it is easy for them to become over-use and under-stretched.

I will identify the muscles and ligaments involved and restore their normal state. I do this by applying gentle tension the involved structure and combining that with specific movements. This is known as Active Release Techniqueģ ģ, which I am certified to provide. If the joints in your low back and pelvis are stiff and contributing to the problem, they may be adjusted. Adjustments are a gentle way to loosen the joints. Very little force is used with adjustments and they usually feel great.

Once the cause of your problem has resolved, I will give you specific stretches and advice to keep your hamstring problems from returning.


Tight Hamstrings

You can probably feel the difference in length of your hamstrings when you sit down.  When you stand, the muscles are lengthened.  Sitting even in good posture shortens your hamstrings.  If you sit for prolonged periods of time, you will be prone to chronic hamstring tightness. 
There are a few posture problems associated with tight hamstrings.  If the hip flexors (above) are tight, the hamstrings will become your primary hip extensor.  The hamstrings are supposed to be the synergist but become the prime mover.  This is called synergistic dominance which increases the chances of injury.
It is easy to see why synergistic dominance increases the chances of injury.  The gluteus maximus the largest muscle in the body.  If the gluteus maximus cannot extend the hip, the hamstrings which are not as powerful as the glutes are forced to do more work than they are designed for.
If you have tight hamstrings you will find it difficult to work and get results with your legs and butt exercises.  Hamstrings tightness can make you prone to pulled hamstrings, and sciatica.

A lot of pain that occurs due to muscles becoming too tight. The tight muscles do not allow as much blood into them as is needed and therefore they do not get the energy and nutrients they need to stay healthy. Therefore tight muscles weaken and then tighten up further, so a viscous circle has begun.


How Do I Prevent Stiff Muscles?

Q: My muscles were very sore and stiff for several days after lifting weights. How can I prevent this and how can it be treated?

A: Muscles are actually damaged as a result of exercise that produces soreness. It used to be thought that the soreness was caused by a by-product of metabolism called lactic acid. Some years ago, researchers in exercise physiology found that instead of lactic acid being the culprit, it was actual structural damage occurring in the contractile protein of muscle cells and the connective tissue surrounding the cells