Stretching Hamstrings Can Cause Them to Tear
“Don’t stretch your hamstrings” is the opposite advice to that given to the vast majority of athletes, especially runners. There is good reason to stop before you stretch, and consider why your hamstrings feel tight in the first place.
I received a message about a hamstring injury on one of the forums that I moderate. The message came from a father who was concerned about his 12YO son, an avid athlete. While stretching his hamstrings he heard a “pop” and immediately felt pain at his butt and behind his knee. A few days had passed and the boy is having hamstring pain while sitting and walking. The first thing someone may tell him is to stretch, and that’s the last thing that should be done. He needs to get an MRI to make sure that his hamstring tendon isn’t torn. If that’s okay, then he needs to look more in depth to find out why his hamstrings are tight.
Why Your Hamstrings May Be Over-Stretched!
Very often your hamstrings will feel tight even though they are actually being overstretched! Your hamstrings originate on your posterior pelvis, and your one of your quadriceps originates on the front of your pelvis. The quadriceps muscle is Rectus Femoris which goes from your pelvis, over your kneecap and down to your shin bone.
When your Rectus Femoris is tight it will pull your pelvis down in the front. This causes your pelvis to move up in the back, and your hamstrings get overstretched. Your hamstrings feel tight but if you then try to stretch them you could tear them. In fact, if they are tight enough you could actually pull the tendon away from the bone.
I’ve found that your hamstrings will often release on their own when you treat your quadriceps. As your quadriceps aren’t pulling down on the front of your pelvis it allows your posterior pelvis to go down. As your posterior pelvis goes down it releases the over-stretch from your hamstrings.
A Simple Self-Treatment to Release Your Quadriceps
Fortunately it’s really easy to release the tension in your quadriceps. I teach these treatments, and many more, in my book: Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living.
I’m using the Julstro Power Roller to push (don’t roll) from the top of my thigh to just above my knee.
I’ve found that the Power Roller gives more focused strength than using a foam roller. Also, tools that have beads that roll can’t go deep enough to reach the lower fibers of this thick muscle.
You’ll find a big spasm, which feels like a bump, at the point shown in this picture. When you go over the spasm it will hurt so start out slow and build up strength to go deeper.
Also, treating your quadriceps will not only help release your hamstrings, but also is the treatment for knee pain. This helps you eliminate two painful conditions, not just one! This is also one of the series of treatments for releasing low back, hip, and groin pain. It’s an especially good self-treatment to learn. You can also do this treatment while sitting in a chair with your knee slightly bent.
Hamstrings Stretch While Treating Spasms
AFTER you treat your quadriceps you can then treat your hamstrings. The following picture not only treats the spasms, but it also stretches your hamstrings.
I prefer the Julstro Perfect Ball over any other type of ball. The Perfect Ball is solid in the middle and soft on the outside, giving great pressure without hurting the muscle.
Put the Perfect Ball on a hard surface such as a wooden stool or corner of a desk.
Rest your hamstrings on top of the ball moving until you find the spasm in the muscle.
Finish by straightening your leg which will stretch your hamstrings. Go slowly and don’t strain the muscle, just move to a “hurts so good” level.
Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living shows you how to treat spasms from your head to your feet. If you are in pain, or if you love sports and your joints feel tight, this book will become your favorite “tool!”
Wishing you well,