Hamstring Flexibility – Why is this Important?
Hamstrings are the big muscles located at the back of your thigh. There are 3 muscles making up your hamstring muscles, known as the Biceps Femoris, Semitendinosus and Semimembranosus muscle.
These muscles cross 2 joints – the hip and knee joint. This means when they contract, they can either take your lower extremity back behind you (called hip extension) or bend the knee (called knee flexion.) While the hamstrings can produce both movements at the same time, they can’t do so to their full capacity. It’s one movement or the other if you’re looking to go all the way with a hamstring muscle contraction.
When the hamstring muscles become tight, they can cause your lower back to flatten out and lose its normal curve. This can cause lower back pain. This is because the result of their contraction at this location is a pulling down of the pelvis in back, a move also known as a posterior pelvic tilt. The posterior pelvic tilt, in turn, tends to elongate the natural low back curve, overstretching and/or weakening the muscles in that area and possibly predisposing you to disc injury. Tight hamstrings may also play a role in sacroiliac dysfunction. Tightness of the hamstring muscles can also in extreme cases (such as after a total knee replacement), cause a knee flexion contracture (the inability to fully straighten the knee). Tightness can also cause a tear of the hamstring muscles and inflammation and irritation of the tendons.
Here at the Physiotherapy Room, our physiotherapists have put together several stretches to help stretch out your hamstring muscles.
It is important to realize that you do not want to be too vigorous when stretching. This will cause pain and the muscles will go into a spasm. This will be exactly the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish. Be gentle with your stretches. Do them regularly to get the best results. It takes time to get the results you are looking for (at least 6-8 weeks). Take deep breathes and try to relax, picture your hamstring muscles just melting away. When doing the exercises remember to keep your back straight (do not round your lower back). Try very hard to maintain a curve in your lower back.
Don’t be too vigorous, Gentle is key
Do them regularly, 1-2 times per day
Results will happen after 6 – 8 weeks
Mindfulness, deep breathing, picture your muscles melting away.
Keep your back straight (no slouching) with a lordotic curve in your lower back.