Hamstrings are muscles involving your thigh region. Exercises and sports with sudden movements of the legs can cause tight hamstrings. When that happens, the muscles are prone to a tear or sprain.
Tight hamstrings can cause back problems and limit your leg works.
That’s why it’s important to keep those muscles loose. But what are tight hamstrings? What are the causes and how it can be prevented?
Causes of tight hamstrings
We mentioned that tight hamstrings are often caused by sudden movement of the legs. But sometimes, one can still experience tightness by not having to move at all. See below what causes these muscle aches.
Protective tension. Protective tension is one of the most common causes of tight hamstrings. It involves the hamstrings becoming “protective” because of the forward tilt of the pelvis. For example – sitting on your desk for hours. It causes the pelvis to tilt forward because of your position.
Therefore, the hamstrings get locked or protective of its attachment to the back of the pelvis. In order to curb this problem, a little exercise should be done to move the hips and legs.
Nerve entrapment or neutral tension. If you have a lower back injury, your hamstrings might be affected. Especially when your thighs are experiencing tingling or numbness, there is nerve entrapment.
When nerves are involved in your tight hamstrings, it’s best to see a doctor or therapist in ruling out nerve tissues. Stretching on your own might even complicate the injury more so.
Previous hamstring strain. More than often, if you have a previous injury on your thighs and hamstrings, the strain and injury would open up and cause another muscle pain. Hamstring injuries are very frequent to happen and can take a while to recover from.
Muscle tissues that are often stressed will cause another tear. If these strenuous activities keep on happening without any rest of the hamstrings, then a tight feeling will grow over time until it causes the person enough pain.
Tendinosis. Acute hamstring strains are called tendinosis and it happens when the tissues are overused throughout time. It creates excruciating pain enough for the person to barely stand at all.
Tendinosis needs professional care from doctors or physical therapists. Never attempt to do stretching or cures on your own.
Truly tight hamstrings. There are people who report to having tight hamstrings without the above causes. Some happen due to weather circumstances or normal daily activities when the muscles become short or tight.
Nevertheless, if you feel any discomfort or pain, you should seek medical help.
Over-lengthening a muscle can cause risk of injury. While it’s important to have your hamstrings rest a while, it’s best if you can move them from time to time to avoid a tight hamstring. Exercising daily for 15 to 30 minutes is enough to create motor movement of the body.
How to prevent tight hamstrings
Stretching while in pain can prove to make the injury worse. Only try doing these prevention tips upon the advice of a doctor. You can also add these stretches on your daily exercise routine.
Physical therapy. Through manual or exercise therapy, and any physical intervention, therapists can help promote mobility and function. They may practice injury management for further acute care, treatment, and rehabilitation of the injured individual.
Visit a physician. If you have experienced past hamstring injuries, it’s best to keep in tabs with the problem together with your doctor. He or she can give you professional advice on how to tackle daily activities without adding harm to your muscle groups.
Massage therapy. A massage can manipulate your tissues and muscles, making them softer and loose. Depending on the severity of your injury and according to your doctor’s advice, you can have a massage in order to loosen your tight hamstrings. It also serves as a preventive measure to the injury by keeping your muscles good and used if you’re someone who has passive activities.
Low impact cardio exercise. You can do low-impact exercises such as stair climbing or swimming to keep muscles flexing and moving. These workouts don’t bother your hamstrings that much, making it a good choice to practice and execute.
Ice treatment. Ice therapy does wonders for your muscles. It does well in treating muscle strains after a workout or sports activity. You can also add a compression brace like a groin wrap to support the affected muscles in the area.
Warm up exercises. Before engaging in different sports and exercise activity, do make sure to warm up in order to loosen major muscle groups. That way, you can prevent injuries from happening.
Do hamstrings stretch. Take three to five minutes of hamstring stretches before jumping into your activity. It may prevent tightness in your thigh region.
BONUS: Eat protein (especially those healthy, lean ones!) and drink plenty of water to help replenish your tired muscles.