If you're experiencing hamstring tension, or a range of motion problem, give this a chance...
- You may not need to stretch at all, your time may be better spent specifically strengthening the hamstrings. Ideally with the eccentric, or slow controlled lowering, phase of a weighted exercise.
- Changes and improvements in muscle length, flexibility and strength can occur within 2 weeks.
- Deconditioning can happen within 28 days.
- Strengthening exercises are fairly simple and can be done in your own home with furniture movers or even a chair
- The benefits of strengthening hamstrings extend beyond improving flexibility and strength but also have a preventative benefit of lowering the risk of hamstring injuries and tears.
A common question we get from our clients is what can be done about their hamstring tightness. Here's a few that we hear pretty commonly; to improve mobility, flexibility, reduce pain, improve performance, and the sensation of having tight hamstrings.
For most people who feel that their hamstrings are tight or have a decreased range of motion due to Hamstring tension, we recommend that they don't stretch. Rather, we highly recommend that they strengthen with specific, weighted exercise.
There's two main components to this.
1. The more 'neurological' side of it -- The body may not feel safe in exploring that range of motion because it perceives not having the strength or stability to control the joint past a certain range. So we build the bodies confidence back up by introducing strengthening techniques.
2. The more 'structural' side of it -- The actual characteristics of the muscle itself. Exercising with weights is much better at building muscle and when we build muscle, the muscle builds by not only by getting bigger, but by extending out as well.
Beyond improving strength and flexibility, there is a preventative benefit for strengthening the hamstrings as well... Decreased strength of the hamstrings has been associated with having a higher risk of hamstring injury, specifically when sprinting, and eccentrically strengthening the hamstrings has been cleared as a realistic way to prevent future injury and/or rehabilitate from a previous hamstring injury.
The evidence indicates that with the right strength training program, we can physically and substantially change the length within 2 weeks.
For the research minded, here's some research to support my perspective;
Architectural Changes of the Biceps Femoris After Concentric or Eccentric Training Link
The effects of eccentric training on lower limb flexibility: a systematic review
"A review of resistance exercise and posture realignment."
Some exercises that I recommend that people can do in their own home are heel slides with sliders or furniture movers as shown in image above or by just pulling the back of their heels into the seat of a chair as shown below.
Once trainees have a baseline strength, we move onto more advanced exercises such as nordic hamstring curls or the glute ham raise (the very first image shown in this article)
If this is something you are interested in learning more about, let us know and we can prepare a video for social media or if you feel more comfortable with private instruction, schedule a session and mention this post and we can teach you how to do the exercises on your own time and in your home.
Take care and thanks for reading,
Taylor Sun, CNS