What are tight hamstrings?
Hamstrings are three muscles at the back of the thigh. Tight hamstring muscles are common and they may be more prone to severe strains. In a lot of cases you can feel tightness or a cramp like sensation in the back of your upper legs. You may instinctively try to massage or rub the area to ease discomfort. If your muscles have tightened up, then the blood will have been squeezed out of them and therefore are unable to work to their full potential.
What problems can tight hamstrings cause?
The hamstrings span the knee and hip joints, so tightness in these muscles can contribute to other problems, such as knee pain. Hamstring tightness might also pull on the hip and pelvis, causing them to rotate, which will in turn result in hip or back pain. Another common problem can be sacroiliac joint pain, which could in turn could be responsible for postural problems.
What can help tight hamstrings?
As with any muscles, they need attention. To get good and lasting relief for tight hamstrings, continuity is key. Make sure you are doing your hamstring stretches at least twice a day, gently gently ease them out. Take care not to be too aggressive, especially in the morning before the body has had a chance to warm up. Sit on the ground, and either have both legs out straight in front of you, or one leg bent inwards (as in the photo). Fold over from the waist, and reach your arms over the straight leg(s). Hold for ten seconds. If you are stretching one leg, switch legs for ten seconds and repeat.
Wonder treatments and products
Other great ways to help, apart from stretching, are compression tights and half tights. These are so effective at combating tight hamstrings. They get the blood pumping to the hamstrings and quads, enabling the blood to rush in and encourage the healing process.
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Another great product is a Cold/Hot Pack. Again the ice will encourage the blood flow to the hurt area, which in turn speeds up the healing process.
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Sports massage is another great way to help ease the pain. At the time, you may want to scream at the masseuse as he/she gets into the pain, but believe me, when it's over, you come out floating on air. I find Shiatsu Massage is particularly effective for tight hamstrings, since it works on the pressure points.
Another idea is a recovery cream. Once you get back from your run, rub this in straight after a shower. Let the active ingredients do their job, getting straight into the muscles. Try out Nature's Kiss Recovery Cream, U.P. Ultimate Performance Sport Balm or Biofreeze gel.
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Rocktape is such a good product. It is not only ultra strong and light, but also a lot more comfortable than an average support, as it has just the right amount of elasticity to make it super comfortable.
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Trigger Point Massage
Invest in a massage aid. The Grid is so effective in relieving tight hamstrings. Or if you travel a lot, why not pop The Stick in your suitcase. If you are traveling light, then go for the Trigger Point Massage Ball. Find out more about Trigger Point Massage products in this review of the Grid.
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If you give your tight hamstrings all the attention they need, then the tightness will disappear and you will fly in your training sessions. So, have fun!
This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. If you experience any pain or difficulty with the exercises or advice, stop and consult your healthcare provider.