Why are my hamstrings always tight?!

Have you ever asked yourself:

“Why are my hamstrings always tight? I stretch them all the time!”

We often times see this in the office with a wide variety of clients, ranging from the man with the 12 hour desk job to the super flexible yoga practitioner that stretches 24/7.

Here are two very common underlying causes for your “tight hamstrings”:

(1) There is an underlying trunk stability problem.

(2) Poor movement through your hips.

What is the difference between walking on a dry sidewalk versus a frozen pond? When you walk on ice, all of your muscles tense up not allowing you to move freely. This is exactly what happens when there is some type of injury or stability problem. In this case, you can stretch and mobilize your hamstrings all day with little sustainability.

To tackle this, here is a great drill called the “Deadbug”. Here you get to work on keeping your low back in a stable position while your arms and legs move. The key to success here is slightly flattening your low back against the ground and engaging your abs. While you move your arms and legs, do not allow your low back to arch.

An example of poor movement through your hips is the inability to hinge without keeping your low back in that neutral position. When you bend down to touch your goes, do you flex more at your back or your hips? The answer should be your hips! This poor movement pattern further leads to low back instability and poor use of the hip musculature.

Here’s an awesome “Hip Hinge” drill we use with many of our clients. The goals here are to keep dowel rod flat against your back the entire time and to move primarily at your hips. Some keys for success are maintaining a neutral spine, unlocking your knees, and aiming your bottom backwards. As you come up to the top, squeeze and engage your glutes.

Take-home message: Regardless of your problem, it is imperative you tackle the underlying cause instead of just putting a band-aid on it all the time.