Do you have persistent tightness in your hamstrings despite days of stretching? It could be your lumbar spine holding you back!
The hamstring is a group of 3 muscles in the thigh that can affect the position of your pelvis, ultimately influencing the lower back. When your muscle is tight, it affects your movement patterns and forces the back to compensate for its inefficiency. This places additional stress on the spine, leading to lower back pain and failure to treat the underlying cause of muscle tightness.
While the thought process of stretching your hamstrings to help your mobility and back pain is correct, the method of using a basic static stretch for minutes at a time may not be the right answer. A tight muscle is unable to relax for a reason; here are two effective ways to loosen a tight hamstring muscle.
One strategy in relaxing the hamstring muscle is to fatigue it. This involves stretching the muscle as far as you can and then contracting it (by pushing down) for 10 seconds to tire it out. After pushing down, relax the leg and you should notice increased flexibility. Once a new range of flexibility is achieved, continue to perform the technique multiple times to achieve greater flexibility.
If the Contract-Relax technique is not effective, the issue may not be muscle flexibility, but rather nerve mobility. Stiffness in the lumbar spine or other inflammation along the tract of the nerve (possibly in the glutes or surrounding musculature) can limit the nerve’s ability to stretch with the hamstrings. This can mimic hamstring tightness, but the issue is not resolved by simply stretching. Nerve glides are shown to be effective, as they move the nerve without placing it in an overly stretched and painful position.
If you do not experience symptom relief from the above strategies, you may need a qualified physical therapist to ascertain where the potential injury is located. Often times the hamstring tightness is a result of the lumbar spine which can be treated with a combination of:
Tight hamstrings limiting your mobility?
Contact Virginia Therapy & Fitness Center to schedule an initial evaluation!