Tight Hamstrings? Here’s What To Do
Back pain and tight hamstrings are two particularly common problems that get in the way of exercise.
Yet, you rely on your daily exercise routine to keep your weight down, your body toned, and your health in check.
When these problems develop, understanding connections between common health problems and pain is important.
Such as the connection between bloating and back pain, and knowing how to deal with the problems can help you find relief and get back to enjoying your exercise sessions.
What Are The Hamstrings?
Hamstrings is quite a common term used, but not everyone truly understands which specific muscles the term really refers to.
There is no single muscle in the body that is known as a hamstring, but, instead, a group of muscles that are collectively referred to in this manner.
When someone refers to “the hamstrings,” they are actually talking about a group of different muscles that are located at the back side of the upper legs.
The term is not only used to describe these muscles but also collectively include the tendons that are part of the muscle groups in the region.
The main muscles that are part of the hamstrings include:
- Biceps femoris
These muscles play numerous roles in both running and walking, which is why they are so important – and why problems with tightness affecting these muscles can affect your physical abilities.
They are responsible for ensuring the knee joints can flex, and help the thigh extended toward the back of your body.
Ultimately, the hamstring muscles are crucial for allowing the legs to move effectively; thus resulting in a walking or running motion.
Who Is Affected By Hamstring Tightness?
In a recent study, 107 students were analyzed to assist scientists in determining the prevalence of tight hamstring muscles among the young adult population.
The study also looked at how tight hamstrings were connected to lower back pain.
After a questionnaire was completed, the study concluded that 40.19% of the students had tight hamstring muscles.
Additionally, 10,3% of the students also had problems with lower back pain.
The students who experienced tightness in their hamstring muscles were more likely to suffer from lower back pain.
In another study by two scientists, college students between the ages of 18 and 25 were surveyed to determine the prevalence of muscle tightness in the hamstrings among this population.
The study also focused on finding how tight hamstrings affected the overall performance of the students.
Students generally had healthy BMIs, with the mean BMI of the male students being 23.9 and among female students, the mean BMI was 20.9.
Up to 96% of the participants had experienced tight hamstrings at a recent time, with a large number of students complaining about tightness in their right extremities.
Why Do You Have Tight Hamstrings?
There are various reasons why you may experience tight hamstrings.
These symptoms may be acute and only last for a few days, return frequently, or be chronic; causing you to experience tight hamstring muscles for a longer duration of time.
One of the most common reasons for hamstring muscles to become tight and painful is the failure to properly warm up before you participate in a session of physical activity.
When you do not warm up prior to exercising, your hamstrings may become tight, and you also become at a higher risk of injuries to your hamstrings and the muscles in the close regions.
Nerve entrapment is another common reason why many people tend to suffer from tight hamstrings, which leads to a condition known as protective tension.
This happens when the nerves in the area of the hamstring are compressed.
Movements in the area would then lead to an excessive stretching sensation and cause you to experience a tightness in the region.
It is relatively easy to determine if you might have nerve entrapment that is causing your hamstring muscles to be so tight.
Simply stand up straight – with your feet apart at shoulder-width.
Bend forward and then use your hands to touch the ground beneath you.
If you are not able to easily reach and touch the ground, then there is a chance that you might have nerve entrapment.
If you find that you feel a stretch that is mainly located at the back of your knees, or even in the muscles located in your calves, then the likeliness that you have nerve entrapment is even higher.
There is another cause that is rarer, but still something that should be taken into consideration – and this is an injury to your lumbar disc.
When your lumbar disc has been damaged, it may not only cause you to experience tightness in this area of your body, but the tightness may also be accompanied by pain symptoms.
A lumbar disc injury tends to cause pain in the hamstring area that gets worse after being still for a long period of time, such as when you get up in the morning after sleeping through the night.
Sitting may also be painful, and you might experience a tingling sensation in your leg at certain times.
You may also find that the pain in your hamstrings tend to become sharper and more intense when you get up after you have been sitting down for a while.
The Connection Between Tight Hamstrings And Back Pain
Multiple studies have confirmed that there is a definite relationship between tight hamstring muscles and pain in the back, with the lower back area to be a particularly common region affected.
It is, however, important that we consider how these two discomforting and painful problems are connected.
While lower back pain may not necessarily cause your hamstring muscle to become tight and sore, there is an opposite connection that has been confirmed by scientific studies.
When the muscles that make up the hamstrings become tight, excessive pressure and stress are, in turn, being placed on the lower back area.
This can cause symptoms to start developing in the lower back, leading to stiffness, pain, and excessive discomfort.
It should be noted that when lower back pain already exists when your hamstring muscles become tight, it may cause the lower back symptoms to become aggravated.
The pain may become worse, and it might cause you to experience some level of disability when you try to get up after you’ve slept, and in cases where you practice certain types of physical activities, such as a squat.
There have also been cases where people have not experienced lower back pain prior to the development of tight hamstring muscles.
In such cases, the hamstring tightness causes pressure to the lower back and leads to the development of back pain.
Furthermore, in cases where you have suffered a lumbar disc injury, this may also be a particular cause for the development of your back pain.
While this type of injury may cause you to experience tightness in the three muscles that make up your hamstrings muscle group, the injury usually tends to affect the lower region of the back as well.
Stress is placed on the region, which leads to inflammation and pain, as well as tenderness.
Many people may experience sudden pain signals in their back, along with hamstring tightness, when they have an injury to a lumbar disc.
What You Can Do About Your Tight Hamstrings
Even though tight hamstring muscles can be very uncomfortable and even become painful, especially when coupled with lower back pain, there are many strategies that you can utilize to help reduce the severity of these symptoms.
Medication can be used to help lower inflammation and to block pain signals.
Exercises are available to help loosen the muscles and strengthen them at the same time.
Additionally, there are supplements that you can take advantage of to help you experience relief of pain and inflammation.
There are different types of pharmaceutical drugs that may be provided to help relax your muscles and to reduce inflammation in your body.
Many of these drugs can bring about effective results and help you get back to life without a constant feeling of tightness in your hamstrings or pain in your lower back region.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are very popular.
These include Naproxen, Celecoxib, Aspirin, and Ibuprofen.
They help to alleviate existing inflammation in your body.
There is a lot of different muscle relaxer medications that are used for back pain and hamstring tightness.
These may include Tizanidine, Chlorzoxazone, Cyclobenzaprine, Carisoprodol, and Methocarbamol.
The specific option prescribed depends on the location of the muscle tightness and soreness, as well as the severity.
Exercise can also aid in improving symptoms of tight hamstrings.
It may also be useful when this muscle tightness is accompanied by lower back pain.
Yoga is a particularly popular physical activity for these symptoms, with the downward dog and the extended triangle pose being some of the most recommended yoga asanas.
Specific hamstring stretches may also be helpful, which should be performed when your hamstrings are tight, as well as before physical activity as part of your warm-up routine.
Standing and seating hamstring stretches can be combined for more effective results.
Lastly, you may also want to consider taking a daily supplement to help alleviate the inflammation that you are experiencing in your hamstrings, as well as your lower back.
There are many supplements out there that can provide you with effective results.
I personally found the Science Natural Turmeric with BioPerine supplement to the best one out of all that I tested.
This supplement contains a 1,300mg dose of high-quality organic turmeric extracts per dose, along with 10mg of BioPerine.
Turmeric is a popular spice that is used in curries and other Indian dishes and has many health benefits – with the anti-inflammatory effects being particularly potent.
The spice is also rich in the following nutrients:
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B6
Copper, potassium, calcium, and many of these nutrients will further help to improve muscle and bone function, while also targeting the inflammation that may be causing you to experience tightness in your muscles.
The supplement is very easy to take – you simply take two tablets once per day with a meal.
Be sure to take it with a full glass of water and allow approximately two weeks for the effects to start kicking in.
When your hamstrings feel tight, you may experience discomfort and a significant adverse alteration in your physical performance and abilities.
Muscle soreness may improve, especially with physical activity, and athletic performance can be drastically reduced.
When hamstring muscles become tight, it also increases the likeliness of back pain, leading to further disability and discomfort.
Fortunately, there are exercises, medication, and even supplements that you can use to reduce the severity of these symptoms and to help you get back out there without muscle tightness or pain getting in your way.