“My hamstrings are so tight.” I’ve heard that numerous times and have definitely said it myself. See below.
And it’s true. Most people’s hamstrings are very tight.
But the reason is often not due to the hamstring muscle fibers being truly, pathologically shortened.
It could be. But, more often than not, a lazy core can be the source of tight hamstrings. I use the word ‘lazy’ because I don’t necessarily like ‘weak’ or ‘not firing’. A person could do dozens of ab wheel rollouts and I would consider them to have a strong core. And core muscles are always firing. But that doesn’t mean these muscle groups are providing adequate support, at the necessary times, to give the hamstrings a break.
But I do believe inadequate core tension and/or anticipatory contraction, during lower extremity and trunk movements, can often be identified by the hamstring muscles which will often become tight to prevent excessive pelvic movement.
This can be addressed very very quickly. Without any actual hamstring stretching.
I demonstrate it below.
In this first video, I’m demonstrating a toe touch assessment. My fingers are probably 2.5 inches from the floor. And I definitely felt as though my hamstrings were the limiting factor.
Immediately after, I performed three 10ish second isometric contractions of the glutes and abdominals. I’m pressing my hands into an object (a vacuum here) to facilitate the contraction.
About ten seconds after these isometrics, I re-assessed my toe touch and it definitely improved. I was able to touch the floor and my hamstrings felt less tight while doing so. (I also demonstrated less hinging at one area of my low back).
This didn’t occur due to the actual muscle length of the hamstring muscles increasing. This would take much longer.
I believe this quick, immediate change occurred due to the core becoming more rigid, through the abdominal and glute isometrics, which allows the hamstrings to release some of their protective tension.
I believe some brief glute/abdominal work should be a staple prior to any hinging type exercise where a certain level of hamstring flexibility is required.
What are some ways you’ve found to quickly decrease hamstring tension prior to a workout?