The hamstrings are a set of three muscles that run up the back of your thighs. These muscles are responsible for the movement of the knees and hip joints. Many people struggle with tight hamstrings, and it has a lot to do with our modern lifestyle. In this article, we will discuss the causes and symptoms and how to loosen tight hamstrings.
Tight Hamstrings Causes and Symptoms
Tight hamstrings can be a result of sitting down for long periods. Those who work a desk job are particularly prone to tight hamstrings. But even if you are active and play sports, you may still be at risk. Sports involving fast running or regular stopping and starting, like tennis or football, can also cause tightness in your hamstrings.
The symptoms of tight hamstrings may only become apparent when you try to stretch. People who are new to yoga tend to notice how tight their hamstrings are during their first class. It’s essential to recognize the difference between tightness and injury. It is normal to feel some discomfort when you stretch, but if you feel pain in your hamstrings, it’s best to see a physiotherapist or doctor before continuing any stretching or sports.
How to Loosen Tight Hamstrings
Keeping these muscles flexible is vital because tight hamstrings are more at risk of injury. There are several stretches that you can do daily to help keep your hamstrings flexible. Remember to warm up your muscles before undertaking any stretching exercise.
Never try to force yourself into a stretch. Your breath should remain even and smooth. When you want to move deeper into the stretch, do so on an exhalation. Here are two brilliant hamstring stretches for you to try at home.
Seated Forward Fold:
- Sit with your legs outstretched and tilt your pelvis so you are on the front of your sitting bones.
- Extend through your heels and flex your feet while relaxing your shoulders.
- Inhale and raise your arms above your head.
- Exhale and lean forward from your hips, rather than your lower back. Lengthen the tailbone away behind you and keep your chest open and extended.
- Come down over your thighs as far as you need in order to feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Hold for 30 seconds or as long as you feel able.
If the stretch feels too uncomfortable, place a rolled blanket or yoga bolster under your knees to take the strain off your hamstrings.
Lying Hamstring Stretch:
- Lay on the floor with your legs outstretched
- Raise the right leg toward you, grasping it wherever you can reach. This might be your ankle, calf, or thigh.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds or as long as you feel able.
- Release the right leg and repeat on the left.
If you find it hard to hold your leg with your hands or it feels too intense, take an exercise band, yoga strap, or regular belt and hook it over your foot. As you relax into the stretch, you can gently pull on the strap to open your hamstring.