If you’ve ever experienced a hamstring, you know that they are uncomfortable. However, it’s also common to experience a hamstring, especially if you’re an athlete.
The cause of hamstring pain can be different – lack of good stretching before exercising, excessive workout or a sudden movement.
All of these can put a strain on the hamstring muscles and even cause them to tear.
I’m sure many of you must be wondering what exactly is a hamstring? Well, the hamstring is not actually just one muscle.
It’s a group of muscles at the back of your leg, the ones that help you bend your leg at the knee.
When it happens, a lot of people are not even aware that they’re experiencing a tight hamstring, but it can stop you from going about your life as you did previously.
Causes of tight hamstrings
A tight hamstring can happen from anything, and it’s not only athletes who experience it.
Quite the contrary, people who sit for longer periods of time are also the most common group of people who experiences tight hamstrings.
A tight hamstring can happen from an array of factors and situations:
- Insufficient warm-up before exercising, especially strenuous exercising
- Weak glutes
- Long sitting sessions
- Sudden high-intensity workouts
- Sudden movements
How to foam roll hamstrings
One of the simplest and most effective ways to get rid of any tension or pain in your hamstring muscles is foam rolling them.
By hamstring rolling every day, you’ll notice how the pain and pressure slowly start to go away, but you need to do it right.
There are several ways how to foam roll your hamstrings.
- Lower yourself on the floor and extend your left leg in front of you
- Bend your right knee so the right foot gets behind you
- Place your foam roller beneath your upper left thigh, right below the glute
- Place your palms on each side of the foam roller and roll it so it can start flexing your foot almost to the floor
- Do this for 30 seconds to 1 minute
- Repeat the exercise with both legs
As we previously mentioned, doing regular strengthening exercises will not only make your hamstrings stronger, but it will improve your overall mobility and flexibility.
However, expect to feel sore the first few days after starting with these exercises, as it’s completely normal after activating these muscles.
This is a healing and strengthening process, but your muscles will most likely be sore after the first few sessions.
Three best hamstring stretches
The hamstring muscle group helps you bend and flex your knee. They also help during running and walking by helping your gluteal muscles extend.
There are a few stretches and exercises you can do to strengthen your hamstring and prevent feeling that tightness and pain in the area.
By doing some of the following stretches, you can prevent injuries, improve your overall mobility, decrease the soreness in your muscles, even prevent lower back pain.
The simple hamstring stretch
This is a basic stretching exercise you can do anywhere and is simple and easy to do. The process is as follows:
- Sit on the floor and stretch your legs out straight
- Extend your arms and reach as further forward as you can while keeping your knees straight
- Stay in this position for 15 to 30 seconds
- Go back to your initial sitting position
- Repeat this stretch 3 times
Standing hamstring stretch
Another simple stretching exercise that can do wonders for the health of your hamstrings. It doesn’t require any equipment and can also be done anywhere.
- Stand up straight and place your right foot in front of your left one
- Start bending slowly towards your right knee while keeping your knees straight
- Stay in this position for 15 to 30 seconds
- Stand up straight into your initial standing position
- Repeat with the other side (with your left foot in front of your right one)
Towel Hamstring Stretch
For this stretch, all you need is a towel and an exercise matt (not mandatory).
- Lie on you back
- Place a bath towel around your toes and hold it with both your hands by its ends
- Lift your leg up by pulling the towel with your hands, while holding your knees straight
- Lift your leg as high up as you can until you feel a stretch behind your thigh and your calf
- Stay in this position for 15 to 30 seconds
- Repeat this stretch 3 to 5 times with both legs
Remember that feeling some tightness and pain in your hamstring muscles will require you to go to the doctor, regardless of how much stretches you do.
These exercises are designed to help you strengthen the muscles and relieve some of the tightness.
Other tips for avoiding hamstring injury
A hamstring injury can be a nasty one, so everyone should try to avoid one from happening to them. Given as healing a hamstring injury is much more difficult than preventing it, you should definitely work towards the latter. Here are some tips on how you can avoid a hamstring injury:
- Before any physical activity, make sure you stretch well and warm up your muscles
- Don’t start with strenuous exercises suddenly. Instead, increase the intensity of your exercises slowly
- Take a break if you feel any pain or tightness in the back area of your leg, specifically the thigh area
- Do some stretching and hamstring strengthening exercises
There is no way to be 100% protected against a hamstring injury, but these things can help you minimize the risk of serious hamstring injuries.
What is the fastest way to loosen tight hamstrings?
Most hamstring strains or tightness are moderate or light, which usually heal on their own.
The only thing you need to do is to rest and not overuse it for some time.
Besides resting, some other things you can do to speed up the healing process are:
- Ice the area for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours to minimize swelling and/or pain
- Use an elastic bandage to compress your leg and reduce swelling
- When you’re lying or sitting, elevate your leg on a pillow to prevent swelling
- Do some stretching and strengthening exercises, similar to those we just explained
- If needed, take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pills
If your hamstring pain is unbearable, please consult a doctor as it may be an indication of a torn muscle, for which you will need surgery.
Should I roll out my pulled hamstring?
If you’ve pulled a hamstring, don’t use a foam roller for the first 5 days, as it can only worsen the injury.
Is foam rolling good for tight hamstrings?
Foam rolling helps you relax your muscles and make them stronger, so it’s very helpful with tight hamstrings.
Doing regular foam rolling massages will make your hamstrings both flexible and stronger in several weeks, so it’s recommended you do them if you have weak hamstrings.
Why do hamstrings get so tight?
Your hamstrings can get tight from an array of things, mainly bad physical movements.
Among the most common causes of tight hamstrings, we can list repetitive movements, poor posture, long sitting sessions, bad warm-up before exercising, and too intense exercises.
Does sitting cause tight hamstrings?
Sitting is among the leading causes of tight hamstrings. Even if you run regularly, if you sit in the same position on your 9 to 5 job, your hamstrings will shorten over time.
So, when you get up or try to use them more frequently, they will feel tight.
Do foam rollers get rid of knots?
Muscle knots are the areas where your muscles feel the most sensitive and one of the most effective ways to get rid of them is foam rolling.
This is due to a technique called Myofascial Release which helps the release of soft tissue, myofascial adhesions, and fascial restrictions, ultimately relieving pressure in the muscle.
We will explain how to foam roll hamstrings and a few other exercises in this article, so stick with us for a bit longer!
How do you tell if you pulled your hamstring?
You may have pulled your hamstring if you feel a sudden sharp pain while exercising or doing a sudden movement.
Some indicators of a pulled hamstring can also be swelling or bruising in the back thigh area accompanied by pain.
How do you massage a hamstring with a roller?
Massaging your hamstring with a roller can help you get rid of knots, relax your hamstrings to make them more flexible and strengthen them.
To massage your hamstrings with a foam roller, do the following:
- Sit on the ground and place your foam roller under your thigh
- Place your palms on the ground behind you to support the weight of your body
- Slowly roll back and forth to feel the area where it feels the tightest
- Once you’ve found the sensitive spot, keep it pressured for around 30 seconds
How long should you roll your hamstrings?
To achieve the maximum effect, you need to roll your hamstring for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each leg.
This is enough time to let your muscles relax and loosen, which will ultimately make them stronger and relieve the tightness you feel.
Is it bad to stretch a pulled hamstring?
A pulled hamstring can require your doctor’s attention, so it’s advisable not to stretch it before it gets checked to avoid further injuries.
How to tell if your hamstrings are weak
It’s common that people don’t even notice they have weak hamstrings as it’s not that easy to detect it.
However, there are several ways to test the strength of your hamstrings, which we will explain further below:
- Lie down on our stomach and keep your legs straight. Bend your leg to the knee at a 90-degree angle and ask a partner to try and push your leg back to the ground. This will show you the strength you have in your hamstrings against the pushing power of your partner.
- Another way to test the strength in your hamstring muscles is to lay down on your back. Bridge your hips as high as you can and lift your leg up with your toe pointing as high up as you can. Repeat with both legs individually and once you identify the weaker leg, do some hamstring strengthening exercises to make it stronger.
How long does it take to get flexible hamstrings?
If you regularly do hamstring strengthening exercises and roll foam your hamstrings 5 times a week, it should take from 2 to 4 weeks to start feeling your hamstrings becoming more flexible.
Although often underestimated, our hamstring muscles play a critical role in our body’s overall mobility and flexibility.
Because of this, it’s important to keep them both healthy and flexible, and this can be done by doing regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular foam rolling and, of course, taking care of your whole body.
Fortunately, personal trainers and physical therapists are finding more and more ways of strengthening the areas of your body that may cause future problems.
This is how foam rolling became popular. An increasing number of athletes and personal trainers started including foam rolling in their routines which has also led to other categories of people to understand the benefits of it.
If you believe you have weak hamstrings or feel tightness in the area, try out foam rolling the area or doing some hamstring strengthening exercises.