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Hamstring Problems are NOT Just an Athlete Problem

hamstring

By Mike Bills, MSPT

Hamstring problems are not just something we see in athletes. While hamstring injuries can happen to an athlete during a practice or a game, it’s actually much more common for all of us to experience hamstring problems related to everyday activities. 

How many times a week or even a day do you have to do any of these things? These are all examples of movements that require your hamstring muscles and all of, if done incorrectly, can lead to hamstring problems.

  • Bending at waist
    • You have to reach down to pick up your child’s toy or put some documents in a lower filing cabinet drawer. Maybe this weekend you were doing things around the house undoubtedly you had to bend at the waist to garden or do yard work or get laundry our of the washer or dryer.
  • Exercising
    • You can to walk from point A to point B a million times a day, whether that’s to walk the dog, walk to the car or walk around the block. You may run or go hiking for exercise.
    • Weight lifting
    • Athletic injury – torn or pulled hamstring
  • Any repetitive activity

What happens that causes problems in the hamstring:

The hamstring is located in the back of your leg. It’s a very long muscle that needs to be stretched a lot especially considering how many times a day we have to bend or complete basic activities or exercise. Most people have very tight hamstrings, which means those muscles aren’t long enough to properly complete the particular activity once, much less several times. The second common cause of hamstring injuries is that this muscle is a big shock absorber. When you walk, run or perform daily activities, it’s the hamstring’s job to absorb that impact so that your back, knee joints, pelvis or hips don’t have to absorb that force. The third common cause of hamstring problems is weakness. Because it is a very long muscle, most people, even athletes, actually have very weak hamstrings. This weakness causes tightness even with very mild activities. This tightness makes it so you can’t fully stretch that muscle through the full range of movement.

Think about the everyday task of walking:

  • When you take a step, the hamstring needs to stretch out to allow you to take a step.
  • It must immediately switch over to being a shock absorber and absorb the impact when your heel strikes the ground.
  • When that hamstring is weak or not conditioned correctly, it will have a difficult time creating force to propel or pull you through the step.

What can happen when a hamstring problem such as tightness or weakness, isn’t handled right away?

  1. You will feel pain in the hamstring muscle itself.
  2. You will start to feel stiffness and soreness throughout your leg which will make things like walking, changing positions (getting in and out of the car or a chair etc) and using stairs.
  3. You will start to have lower back pain.
  4. You will start to feel pain in your knees.
  5. You will start to have discomfort in your calves.

You can see, something as seemingly minor as hamstring tightness, when not handled right away, has a trickle down and up effect on the body and can start making simple tasks painful and difficult. All of these hamstring issues that are not addressed right away or that are chronic will definitely cause more serious issues such as:

  • Back problems that will eventually involve the disc and you will experience nerve problems.
  • Chronic knee problems ultimately leading to arthritis in the knees.

How do I know if I have a hamstring problem? Ask yourself or someone you know these questions:

  • Do you have pain and stiffness in your legs?
  • Do you have knee pain or discomfort?
  • Do you have back pain or discomfort?
  • Do you have problems walking, running or being active?

These are signs of a possible hamstring problem that has not “healed” on its own and should get checked out right away. 

Loudoun Sports Therapy Center can help you handle your hamstring problems and prevent them from becoming a more serious issue. CALL TODAY at 703-450-4300 and get scheduled for an evaluation so you can get this problem handled once and for all!

CLICK HERE for a simple hamstring stretch.