For as long as I can remember starting running I've had tight hamstrings, but not to the extent of getting any discomfort. I started stretching regularly in February and I've still had barely any improvement. My left hamstring is tighter (by this I mean it can't bend back as far as my right). I've tried massage, foam rolling and all sorts. I presume this could be contributing to my back pain (mostly upper but also middle and lower)?
Any other ideas as to why they're staying so tight? I've been pretty inactive the past year and I'm just coming back to running and cycling now so keen to get them sussed.
This maybe a problem of you having a loose hamstring
I had a tight hamstring on and off for years. I finally cured it by making sure my glutes and piriformis were both stretched and strengthened. Doing this put everything back in its proper place and took pressure off a nerve that was causing the sensation of tightness. I couldn't do a straight leg swing above waist height without fear of falling over. Now a leg swing at head height is no problem. The best stretch I found, which you can see all over t'internet is often called the figure 4 ie sit on a chair with the ankle of the injured leg on top of the knee of the other leg. With a straight back lean forward feeling the stretch through the glute. Morning and evening for a couple of weeks should see a big improvement. As for strengthening I used Pilates exercises mainly single leg squats 3 x 12 each day.
My right hamstrings are much tighter than the left. This has been the case for years. I have done the usual things, been referred to NHS Biomechanics Consultant, see private physios, stretch & strengthen etc. Never got to the root cause yet, but usually receive differing opinions, e.g. due to calf issues, hip issues, lower back issues. I work around it, but the big issue for me is speedwork. This week I have tweeked the right one once again even after lots of warm up and stretching. My hamstrings were like this before I started running.
When you say you have left hamstring tightness, does that mean that you just in general feel more of a stretch/strain on your left side when you are running - is this based on a hamstring flexibility test - or do you get pain? Hamstring pain can actually be referred from you lower back and sacro-iliac joint (SIJ) - and may not be caused by your actual hamstring. Especially if you have tried stretching out your hamstring ( I presume very rigorously, everyday, and correctly ) without any improvement in your symptoms, I would assume then that your tightness or pain is originating from somewhere else. Low back pain has been shown in the literature to be highly correlated with tight hamstrings as well - so yes they most definitely could be related. Your hamstrings attach proximally to your ischial tuberosity, which is located on your pelvis. If you think about it, if your hamstrings are too tight, they are going to pull on your pelvis and disrupt its alignment, which will have an effect on your vertebral column, muscle attachments in your lower back, and nervous system. If you are getting pins and needles or shooting pain down the back of your legs, those are signs correlated with neurological dysfunction.
The real question, is what is the root cause to your problem, and what caused it to start in the first place? I recommend going to see a physiotherapist to assess your injury. You may want to try using a tennis ball in your gluteus region to release the muscles in that area ( trigger pointing) - as well some basic strengthening of your hips and core may be of some benefit. For some reason, the gluteus maximus muscles sometimes become inhibited, which basically means they stop firing. Your hamstrings - thinking its being clever, will take over and do it's job as well as function for your gluteus maximus. This can create problems in muscle activation, overuse of your hamstrings, as well as tightness to occur. A good way to assess your glut strength is to try doing a single leg squat ( in front of a mirror) - if your knee dives into the middle, then you know your glutes are not working properly.
More information on running injuries can be found on Run3D's website under 'injury info' at www.run3d.co.uk.
Best of luck!
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