It’s a common complaint – tension in your hamstrings leaving you feeling less mobile, longing for the days when you could touch your toes.
If you’re constantly stretching your “tight” hamstrings without any relief, it may be time to consider if they really are the source of the issue.
More often than not, the issue comes from above, in the pelvis.
In the photo below, I’ve marked the front and back of my pelvis with tape, so you can see the different rotations more clearly:
During our everyday tasks, we tend to fall into the habit of rotating our pelvis anteriorly (not always as drastically as in the picture above) while sitting or standing for long durations. This change in alignment impacts all the muscles surrounding your pelvis; the hip flexors and low back become shortened and tight, while the abdominals and glutes tend to be overstretched and weak. What we often forget, though, is that your hamstrings also have an attachment point on the pelvis.
So, when our hips rotate anteriorly, the attachment of the hamstrings on the back of the pelvis moves further away from the attachment at the knee, putting the hamstrings on a constant stretched position – taut like an overstretched elastic band, as you can see from the photos below.
What we perceive as tension in the hamstrings, therefore, is often due to this “tautness” and NOT from “tightness”.
Instead of stretching these muscles that are already overstretched, what could we do better?
- Correct our alignment – being aware of our posture at work, at home, playing with your kids, and especially while under load (like in the gym!!)
- Strengthen the abdominals, glutes and hamstrings to help maintain this new alignment
- Stretch the hip flexors and spinal extensors to help maintain this new alignment
- Breathing drills (see our previous post for more info on how these can help)
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