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Why Your Hamstrings Are Always Tight!

Why me?

There are a lot of reasons why your hamstrings could be tight, and most often in order to determine the root cause and exact factors, a physiotherapist will need to take a detailed subjective and physical examination to determine what's going on.

Some common causes of hamstring tightness are:

  • Neural tightness

  • Poor training programming: eg lack of recovery and overtraining

  • Lack of hamstring strength

  • Lifestyle factors

Neural tightness:

Neural tension is generally the term used to describe nerves that are poorly sliding and gliding through tissue optimally. They generally give a sensation of tension/tightness to that region. In our hamstrings case, the sciatic nerve supplies the hamstring and also runs down the back of the leg along with it. Repetitive movements and prolonged pressure (typically from sitting) are two of the most common causes of neural tension. To resolve issues of neural tension, specific nerve stretches are required.

Poor training programming: Lack of recovery and Overtraining

When we exercise, lactic acid builds up in our tissue. As we rest and recover before working out those muscle groups again, the body works to repair muscles and rid them of lactic acid. Overtraining/poor recovery can lead to an excessive build up of lactic acid without the time needed for your body to properly filter it. This can result in painful and sore muscles, commonly giving the perceived sensation of ‘tightness’.

Lack of hamstring strength:

Hearing that a lack of hamstring strength is the cause of your hamstring tightness can often be confusing to most. However, did you know that an inability of the hamstring to consistently deal with load can result in tightness? When a muscle is constantly fatiguing, and cannot keep up with the forces placed on it, it will inevitably get tired and tighten up. Stronger hamstrings are also generally more resistant and less likely to fatigue and tighten up (provided the body is moving efficiently from a biomechanics point of view).

Lifestyle factors:

How we live each day can increase risk factors as to why our hamstrings may be tight. Professions which involve a lot of sitting can be a factor for neural tightness as we compress the hamstring muscle/sciatic nerve, as well as maintain it in a shorten position. Poor sleep cycles can also reduce the body's ability to regulate and excrete lactic acid build up, thereby increasing the risk of muscle soreness and associated perceived tightness.

A potential fix!

Interested to see a few exercises that may help you? Click the button below!

Who you should for this issue:

If despite the exercises above you're still feeling ongoing hamstring tightness, a physiotherapist will need to take a detailed subjective and physical examination to determine the causes of your hamstring tightness.

They will then assist you with manual therapy treatment techniques and exercise prescription where needed to resolve the issue. Click the button below to check out! We also offer online rehab if you're not based in Sydney.

Want to more about the hamstrings? Click here to read our blog post on distal hamstring tendinopathy.


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