How To Loosen Tight Hamstrings In Under One Minute

Today we’re going to show you how to loosen tight hamstrings in under one minute. When patients first come into my office many have been told they have ‘tight’ hamstrings. And surprise, surprise…static stretching of their hamstrings hasn’t helped. Well what if the problem isn’t a tight muscle at all?

The reality is that most people with tight hamstrings don’t actually have a shortened muscle, instead they have a muscle that’s unable to relax. By treating helping the muscle relax instead of stretching the muscle, we can loosen tight hamstrings in under one minute.

How To Tell If You Have A Shortened Hamstring Or A Hamstring That’s Unable To Relax

The easiest way to tell the cause of your tight hamstrings is with the straight leg raise test. To perform:

1. Lay on our back, keeping your leg straight, actively lift one leg straight off the table as high as you can. 

2. Next, have a partner (or use a band/towel) to passively lift your leg straight up. Have someone lift your leg straight up (while you relax leg). 

Step 1: Active Straight Leg Raise

Step 2: Passive Straight Leg Raise

How To Interpret

We can observe three different scenarios with this test.

  1. An active range of motion above 90 degrees suggests good range of motion of your hamstring. Any tightness is more likely due to a strength and stability issue.
  2. No change between the active and passive test suggests that the tightness is a muscular issue
  3. An increase in range of motion with passive range of motion suggests that the muscle itself has enough length, but is unable to relax when performed actively suggesting a nervous system issue.  

Why It Matters

It’s important to differentiate the cause of your tight hamstring because it will determine the best treatment. If the issue lies in our muscle than manual therapy, eccentric exercises, and mobility drills would be the best treatment to help lengthen the tight hamstring.

If the issue lies in our nervous system, finding the best exercise to help our hamstring relax will be more beneficial.

How To Help a Tight Hamstring Relax

If you determined that the restriction is indeed caused by a nervous system issue we need to implement an exercise designed to ‘fire up’ our central nervous system. There are many exercises that can work but we love the Banded Pull Apart. Banded Pull Aparts are an easy exercise to ‘fire up’ our central nervous system to allow relaxation of our hamstring muscles. Watch the video below to learn how to perform.

How To Loosen Your Hamstrings In Under One Minute

As always, to make sure we’re not completely full of crap we can do an easy test/retest to see if there’s any improvement. Here is the difference we discovered with 45 seconds of banded pull aparts (no touching hamstrings!) Went from fingers barely touching to getting entire palm on floor.

Tight hamstrings can be one of many things that contributes to back, knee, and hip pain. If joint pain is limiting your ability to enjoy the world around you, download our free program and to get started on your strength journey and improving your ability to live life without any limitations. Check it out below.

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