Hamstring Pain

Last week I seemed to have a run on questions about hamstring pain on all of the forums that I moderate.  The questions varied from a 30ish baseball player who was running like he was in high school, to someone who had severe pain at the base of his butt when he would stand up.  It was a banner hamstring week!

So, I decided to copy one of the answers I posted on one of the forums so you could benefit from the information.  With so many people finally getting out of the house after being housebound for the long winter months (if you live in a cold weather area), it makes sense that people’s muscles aren’t ready to just jump into all the activities we enjoy.

Here’s my answer to someone who has pain in his hamstrings only while running up hill:

The hamstring issue is complicated because it’s not just spasms in your hamstring muscles that are causing the problem.  The source of the problem is a muscle called iliopsoas that is located on the front side of your lumbar vertebrae.

This is the muscle that contracts in order for you to go from standing to sitting. However, when you are running uphill, or climbing stairs, or even when you are sitting for an extended period of time, the muscle shortens due to a phenomenon called muscle memory, and then when you try to stand up straight it can’t lengthen.

As the muscle stays shortened it pulls your lumbar vertebrae forward and down, rotates your pelvis, and therefore causes your hamstrings to overstretch.  If you go to http://www.forum.julstrointernational.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=762 you can read a more detailed explanation of this situation. If you decided to go to a therapist, there is a list of the muscles, in the order they need to be treated, directly under the explanation.

I suggest you also go to https://www.julstromethod.com and read about repetitive strain injuries, including the sections titled “Muscles and Pain” and “What’s Happening Exactly.”  These pages will help you have a much better understanding of what is happening and how you can self-treat it.

If you release the tension in the muscles, especially your quadriceps, quadratus lumborum, and iliopsoas, I believe your hamstrings will stop tugging and you’ll have relief from the pain.

The most important thing to tell you is to NOT try stretching your hamstrings until the other muscles are released so you won’t further stretch an overstretched muscle.  Even if you only do a few fast passes on your quadriceps, and then a quick iliopsoas stretch, you’ll have a lot more success at releasing the tension in your hamstrings.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly


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