How to Fix Tight Hamstrings
Tight hamstrings can be caused by several things, but a common reason is poor alignment caused by sitting for hours at a desk. The way most of us sit when we’re at a desk – with tense hip flexors, our pelvis tilted forward and an arched back – is one of the major reasons for feeling of tightness in the hamstrings. But in actual fact, although it feels like our muscles are contracted and tight, the problem is most likely to be that our hamstrings are overstretched and weakened as a result of this poor alignment. That means that as much as it’s important to gently stretch them out, strengthening our hamstrings and making them less vulnerable in the first place is also just as vital. One way to do that is to work on strengthening your glutes and your core; if your body has support and stability from these areas then it’s less likely to overload the hamstrings instead. To keep your hamstrings loose and limber, incorporate regular stretches into your workout routine, eat a protein-rich diet to help support proper muscle function and ensure you stay well hydrated to fully replenish the body. Another top tip for reducing the impact of immobility? “One thing that would help long-term is looking into getting a standing desk,” says Lee Mullins, Workshop’s founder. If you can remove the chair from the equation then follow that with a plan of gentle stretching and glute and core activation, you could be well on the way to waving goodbye to those pesky hamstring pains for good.
Kneeling hip flexor stretch
Ideal for helping to relieve tightness in the hips and for stretching out the hips, glutes and thighs.
- Kneel down on one knee and place the other foot flat on the floor in front of you.
- Bend your right knee to 90 degrees and keep your knee over your right ankle.
- Place your hands on your hips and straighten your spine while keeping your shoulders low.
- Gently push into the hip of the front foot. Engage your core and other thigh.
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat for 5 reps.
- Switch legs and repeat.
Lying hamstring stretch
A great stretch to keep your hamstrings flexible and mobile.
- Lie down on the ground with your back flat and your feet on the ground and your knees bent.
- Carefully bring your right knee to your chest.
- Extend the leg as much as you can, while still keeping the knee slightly bent. If it helps get a deeper stretch, use a yoga strap or exercise band.
- Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
Foam roller stretch
Foam rollers are a useful tool in stretching and loosening hamstrings. Keep one at home and use it to massage your legs whenever needed.
- Sit on the floor with your foam roller under your right thigh. Keep your left leg on the floor.
- With your arms behind you, roll your hamstring over the roller, starting at the base of your buttocks and going down to the back of your knee.
- Ensure you keep your core engaged and your back straight as you roll.
- Continue slowly for at least a minute then repeat on the other leg.
Glute bridge march
Keeping your glutes activated will help reduce the pressure on hamstrings and decrease the risk of other injuries.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor in front of you.
- Rest your arms on the floor with your palms facing up up.
- Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
- Keeping your abs switched on, lift your right knee toward your chest. Pause here, then lower your right foot. Repeat the same action with your left leg for one rep.
- Repeat for 10 reps.
Having a strong core is your body’s support system and can help reduce the pressure on vulnerable hamstrings.
- Kneel with your knees hip width apart and your hands on the ground shoulder width apart. Brace your abdominals.
- Lift one hand and the opposite knee just off the ground while balancing on the other hand and knee. As you move, keep your weight centred, your abs engaged and your hips squared to the ground. Extend to the full range of motion by pointing the same arm straight out in front of you and extending the leg straight out behind you.
- Hold for a few seconds then return your hand and knee to the starting position.
- Repeat for 5 reps on each side.