Why are my hamstrings always tight even though I stretch them every day?
So many of my clients ask me why their hamstrings that feel ‘tight’. The first question I always ask is ‘do you stretch during the week?’, The second question I follow up with is “What do you stretch?”
Usually the answer will be “I always stretch my hamstrings after my session in the gym”. There are multiple reasons why you feel the ‘tightness’ in your hamstrings. The two most common situations I find are that;
1. Your pelvis is in an anterior tilt
2. Your core is holding your hamstrings tight as a defensive mechanism
If your pelvis has an anterior tilt, this could be because your anterior structures i.e. hip flexors are short from sitting down all day. Sitting in a chair all day will develop poor glute activation. When you break down the anatomy of the hip, the hamstrings attach to the bottom of the pelvis and then travel down just below the knee. If the pelvis anteriorly rotates – front tilts downwards – then the hamstrings will actually lengthen. This constant stretch on the muscle will start to ache, and this ache will start to feel no different to a ‘tight’ feeling. So no matter how much you stretch the hamstrings, you will never escape that tight feeling because they are stretched tight, but they are not short.
To find some relief from this feeling you will need to start releasing the front of the hip – Focusing on the TFL (Tensor Fascia Lattae), Psoas, Rectus Femoris. Most importantly, once you have found some new range in the joint, you will need to strengthen the glutes to retain the range.
How do you assess if you have an anterior tilt? Try rotating your pelvis back and forth. You should be sitting roughly in the middle.
What are the best methods to release the front of the hip?
You can try stretching – the couch stretch is a great one. The main thing you need to remember is that you are trying to encourage a neutral pelvis. Therefore, when you drop into a standard hip flexor stretch, squeeze the glute and roll the pelvis under yourself before stretching. If you just drop into the stretch and you are already anterior, you will only encourage a further anterior tilt.
Trigger point release works as well. Use a massage ball or foam roller to dig into the structures before stretching to desensitise any trigger points. I prefer to use dry needling, this can be a little uncomfortable for some, however you will almost instantly see a difference. ART and deep tissue massage after the dry needling will also help restore full range to the now freed up structures.