"I have Tight Hamstrings" :-(
A lot of people have come to me complaining of tight hamstrings limiting their performance in their sport, active hobby, or their favourite exercise class.
Even more so - some people just want to touch their toes. But they think they can't - because they've never been able to their entire life.
If your hamstrings have been short and tight forever, and you've been stretching them forever also - to no avail, then chances are that stretching isn't the answer for you.
This applies to every other muscle and muscle group in the body - but I hear the vast majority of comments about hamstrings, so thought I would address them specifically.
The REAL Reason Why your Hamstrings are Tight
Let's back up a bit though. Stretching may an important part of the answer. For a TINY segment of the population it may be the only answer needed.
BUT for most people but it is just a SMALL PART of the answer.
Because for most people - both those who exercise / train and those who don't - muscle tightness or shortness is a function of your HABITS, POSTURE, and LIFESTYLE.
If you sit all day for work, your glutes turn off.
When you're walking / running / climbing stairs / squatting down to do work around the house - your butt muscles stop firing.
The hamstrings, which are located right under the glutes, start doing all the work that the glutes should be doing, because they are physically in the right position to help out.
So when you're in the gym or outside training / working out, you never learn to use the glutes. You continue to use the hamstrings.
As you get fitter and stronger in your activities, you increase the intensity of your workouts. So your hamstrings work even more, and your glutes still don't work.
The problem is that hamstrings are smaller than the glutes, and yet they are being asked to shoulder the work their bigger counterparts are supposed to be doing.
This is just one example of how hamstrings can get progressively tighter, and tighter, and tighter...
Stretching alone can't combat HABIT. This is how you might find yourself spending years in the hamster wheel of stretching.
The 2 - Part Solution
There IS a solution to get more flexible. It's NOT EASY and takes time and consistency. On the plus side, it's super rewarding, and very simple to get started.
Based on what I've already mentioned above - it's "Kick in the Butt."
1. Use Your Glutes as part of day to day habits and posture.
Stand on your underground, train, or bus commute to work. Walk to work. Use a standing desk for a few hours a day. Adjust how you walk - focusing on squeezing the butt of the leg that moves behind you, rather than lifting the knee of the leg in front of you.
2. Use Your Glutes When You Exercise / Train.
Learn how to squat using your glutes and not your quads. Run by focusing on extending the hip of the leg behind you, as opposed to lifting the leg in front of you. And the list goes on.
Of course there are many finer details behind anatomy and movement science that cater to each person individually. However, the above should get most people - in our modern world - off to a good start to getting those fluffy, and super capable hamstrings back.
Any questions or curiosity for more detail - feel free to get in touch with me!