Hamstring tightness & treatment

Written by judy bruen
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Hamstring tightness & treatment
(Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Tight hamstrings affect posture, gait and the way that the body moves during exercise. Corrective exercises, stretching and massage therapy can loosen up the back of the legs and restore them to their natural function.

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Causes

Hamstrings tighten if they are not stretched after exercise. Genetics (short muscles), a pinched sciatica nerve and weak abdominal and lower back muscles contribute to tight hamstrings.

Hamstring tightness & treatment
Stretch your hamstrings after exercise. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Paul Sapiano)

Effects

Tight hamstrings pull the pelvis and hips out of their natural alignment, compromising posture. As a result, the back flattens, losing some of its natural curve.

Hamstring tightness & treatment
Tight hamstrings affect posture. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Osamu Uchida)

Stretching

Seated or standing hamstring stretches should be done after exercise. Stretches should be done at least twice--the first stretch will warm up the hamstrings and the second will help lengthen the tightened muscles.

Hamstring tightness & treatment
Do each stretch twice. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Nattu)

Massage therapy

Massage therapy or sports massage can help break up lactic acid and relax tight hamstrings. Drink water after a massage to release and flush out the toxins.

Foam roller

A foam roller is a instrument that is used for self myofascial release, a form of soft tissue therapy that relaxes tense muscles. Sit on it and roll it up and down the hamstrings, stopping at points of tension. Applying pressure to tight areas helps relax the muscles.

Corrective exercises

Core exercises, such as the bridge and the plank, strengthen weak core muscles. Weak core muscles contribute to tightness in the hamstrings. Lie on a mat and rest your head and shoulders on the ground to go into bridge position. Walk your feet close to your glutes, push up through your heels and lift your lower back and hips. Stop when you can draw a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Hold there for five seconds, lower and repeat. To do the plank, lie on your stomach and place your elbows directly under you shoulders. Lift onto your toes and forearms, maintaining a straight back throughout the exercise. Hold for 30 seconds and release.

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