Why Are My Hamstrings So Tight?

 

A common complaint among individuals, athletes or not, is that their hamstring “feels” tight. And stiff hamstrings cause bigger problems like low back pain, poor athletic performance, lack of mobility, and other postural issues.

 

But don’t worry, you don’t have to endure the pain. 

 

Let’s have a look at the real reasons why your hamstrings feel tight and what you can do about it. But first, let’s understand how the hamstring muscles function.

The Hamstring’s Function

Hamstring muscles are the voluntary muscles found at the back of your thigh. You use them to walk, do squats, climb stairs, and perform other leg movements. 

You have three muscle groups that make up your hamstrings:

Semimembranosus Muscles 

This muscle is located in the innermost of the hamstring, which is closest to the middle of your body. It is responsible for flexing your knee joint and offering a medial rotation for your lower leg and hip.

Semitendinosus Muscles 

It is located at the medial and posterior aspect of the thigh and matches that of the semimembranosus muscle.

Biceps Femoris Muscles 

This is a long muscle of the posterior compartment of the thigh responsible for the movement of the knee and hip joints. When your knee is bent, this muscle rotates your leg from side to side.

 

The three muscle groups that make up your hamstrings comprise thousands of small elastic muscle fibers, which help the muscles to tighten or contract. 

 

Hamstring strain ranges from mild to severe, from Grade 1 (muscle fibers are overstretched but not torn) to Grade 3 (muscle tissue is completely torn from bone or tendon).

Symptoms of Hamstring Tightness

If you’re unsure about whether or not you have a hamstring issue, be on the lookout for some of the following tell-tale signs that you have a hamstring strain or that you might be developing one:

 

  • Difficulty bearing the weight on your leg

  • Inability to bend your knee, leading to walking with a straight or stiff leg

  • Sudden, sharp pain in the back of your thigh

  • Hamstring muscle weakness

  • Tenderness, redness, swelling, pain, or cramping in the hamstring

7 Reasons Your Hamstrings Feel Tight

1. Long Periods of Inactivity or Sitting

Some people feel that their hamstrings are tight after sitting or long periods of inactivity. For instance, working at a desk for several hours.

 

A study even found an alarmingly high rate of hamstring tightness in healthy university students and a correlation to extended sitting hours. [1]  This happens because your backside and hamstring muscles are lengthened while you sit, leading to tight muscles and causing the pelvis to tilt slightly.

 

In addition to a sedentary lifestyle, poor posture can force hip flexors into a shortened position, which also causes tight muscles.

2. A Recurring Injury

In some cases, tightness is due to a recurring hamstring injury that makes your hamstrings vulnerable. 

 

Each time the injury recurs, scar tissue may form, leading to increased stiffness and decreased range of motion in the muscles. Proper rehabilitation and strengthening exercises are essential to break this cycle and prevent future injuries

3. Poor Hip Stability

Another common reason why your hamstring feels tight is you have poor hip stability, which is a fancy term for your body not activating the glute muscles the way it should be and using the hamstring instead.

 

It is also possible that your hamstring always takes over when doing movements like lunges, squats, and other leg movements.

 

To test if you have poor hip stability, take note of whether you move your spine or back forward before the hip when starting to perform a lunge, deadlift, squat, or run.

 

Related: Lower Back Pain After Running – What Are the Causes and How to Heal?

4. Weak core muscles

Imagine core stability as the foundation of your body. Without core activation, the hamstrings will contract constantly and take up the slack when the core can’t properly stabilize the hips. 

 

This compensation puts excessive strain on the hamstrings, leading to tightness and potential injury over time. 

 

Strengthening the core muscles through targeted exercises can help distribute the workload more evenly and alleviate pressure on the hamstrings, reducing the likelihood of tightness and discomfort.

5. Pelvic Problems

Your pelvis alignment impacts everything from your spine to the hips, legs, and feet. 

 

Therefore, if there’s an uneven pelvic pull, it can disrupt the manner in which your body stands naturally. This results in painful hamstrings. Tight hip flexors can cause tightness in the hamstrings as it creates an anterior pelvic tilt.

6. Dehydration

Dehydration can surprisingly contribute to tight hamstrings. 

 

When the body is dehydrated, muscles are more prone to cramping and stiffness. The hamstrings, being large muscles heavily involved in movement and support, are particularly susceptible to this effect. 

 

Without adequate hydration, muscle tissue can become less pliable, leading to a sensation of tightness and discomfort. Additionally, dehydration can impair overall muscle function, reducing flexibility and increasing the likelihood of strain or injury during physical activity.

7. Strain After Exercise

One of the common causes of hamstring tightness is doing an exercise that puts a substantial strain on the muscle. This can eventually lead to tight muscles. 

 

For example, playing a sport like soccer that targets the hamstring muscle. The same goes for performing a hamstring curl workout. The tightness typically occurs after suddenly increasing the exercise intensity or starting a new exercise routine. 

Carnosine Can Help People With a Tight Hamstring

 

Carnosine is a naturally occurring compound in the body that serves as a vital protein-building block with a range of benefits. 

 

Carnosine is renowned for its ability to reduce the buildup of lactate, a byproduct of intense physical activity, which can contribute to muscle fatigue and soreness. It has also been shown to expedite muscle recovery, enhance overall athletic performance, and promote long-term health and wellness.

 

CarnoSport is a specialized sports gel formulated with carnosine as its primary ingredient. 

 

Developed in collaboration with the Tartu Pharmacology Institute and professional athletes, CarnoSport is designed to support athletes in optimizing their performance and recovery. 

When applied directly to the hamstrings before exercise, CarnoSport works to enhance muscle flexibility, reduce stiffness, and promote faster recovery during and after physical activity.

 

Incorporating CarnoSport into your pre-workout routine can contribute to a smoother, more productive exercise session and support ongoing muscle health and flexibility.

Takeaway

Source:  Pexels
Source: Pexels

Most of the time, tight hamstrings can be treated at home with simple stretches, and the muscle tension disappears over time.

 

Doing daily stretches that focus on your hamstrings, lower back, calves, and hip flexors will dramatically reduce tightness and increase hamstring flexibility.

 

If you have other concerns or feel pain, we highly recommend you make an appointment with your doctor.

 

Strengthen your leg muscles and improve your tendon, ligament, and joint health using CarnoSport to prevent hamstring tightness down the road. Click here to find out more about this sports gel. 

 

Sources:

[1] https://www.sjosm.org/article.asp

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23479117/