Tight Hamstrings?

Stretching hamstrings. Most of us probably started stretching in middle school when we were taking those dreaded Presidential Fitness Tests. But what we did not know back then is that stretching isn't always necessary. When you're determining if a muscle is tight or not, you have to think about the position of the bones that it is attached to. 

As an example, we'll take a look at the hamstrings and Mrs. West. 

Those poor hamstrings..

The hamstrings comprise of a group of muscles (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and the biceps femoris). In general, they attach from your "sit bones" called ischial tuberosities, down to various spots along the back of your two shin bones (tibia and fibula). 

Now if we try to position our pelvis to catch some champagne, or perform what's called an anterior pelvic tilt...

You can see that the pelvis rolls forward in a counter-clockwise direction from this view. Now look at your both blue pins which represent the hamstring muscle attachment points. I hope you're able to appreciate how your hamstrings are already put on stretch just by being in an anterior pelvic tilt. 

So, imagine if you are trying to check if your hamstrings are tight by going down to touch your toes and you are starting in an anterior pelvic tilt. You won't be going very far. Catch some champagne and try it for yourself versus tilting your pelvis in the opposite direction and then touching your toes. Now, if you are in an anterior pelvic tilt and you are able to touch your toes? Your hamstrings are now what we call "pathologically lengthened". In other words, you overstretched your hamstrings, leaving you vulnerable to staying in an anterior pelvic tilt which could lead to all sorts of trouble starting at your low back. 

Mrs. West and your hamstrings are just one example of how cautious you should be with all of these "health tips" that are floated around the internet. So the next time you are having some aches and pains, please see a properly trained physical therapist who can truly evaluate you instead of relying on the latest trends or tips you heard from a co-worker. Hope this was helpful!