Tight Hamstrings Information

Tight Hamstrings Information

Most individuals, even poorly conditioned athletes, have some degree of hamstring tightness. It usually doesn’t cause any problems for those participating in normal everyday activities. However, for those that suddenly increase their activity level, participate in sports, have a manual labor occupation, and such, hamstring tightness can lead to a potentially debilitating hamstring injury or knee injury and lower back pain.

 

 

 

Tight Hamstrings

Anatomy As It Relates To The Hamstrings

The hamstrings refer to the three posterior thigh muscles and their tendons - the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and the long and short heads of the biceps femoris. The hamstrings begin at the bottom of the pelvis on the ischial tuberosity and extend down the back of the thigh along both sides of the knee. The biceps femoris inserts at the fibula and the other two insert at the tibia. All of the muscles work to bend (flex) the knee, while all but the short head of the biceps femoris work to straighten (extend) the hip. The double function is due to all but the short head of the biceps femoris crossing both the knee and hip joint (the short head of the biceps femoris only crosses the knee joint.) The hamstrings not only provide knee and hip stability while walking, running, and climbing, jumping, they also act as an antagonist to the quadriceps. In other words, the hamstrings work to decelerate the forward movement provided by the quadriceps during knee extension.

What Causes Hamstring Tightness?

Of course, poor muscle flexibility and strength conditioning can cause hamstring tightness. This includes having muscular strength imbalances between the hamstrings in the left verses right leg or between the quadriceps and hamstrings in the same leg. It also includes improper or absent stretching prior to participating in exercise or sports. One important point of any muscle that has a two-joint-crossing, such as the hamstrings, is that a full stretch of the muscle is rarely achieved in everyday activities. The full breadth of the muscle as it changes length from contraction to stretching can only occur if the hip is fully flexed as the knee is simultaneously fully flexed. Since the hamstring is rarely stretched to its full breadth in normal activities, its even more prone to tightness. Other causes may include:

* There may also be genetic factors involved with hamstring tightness. Some people are born with shorter hamstrings than others.

* Certain medical conditions, such as sciatica, hamstring syndrome, Piriformis syndrome, Scheurmanns’ disease, cerebral palsy, anterior knee pain, and such can result in hamstring tightness.

* Prolonged sitting may shorten the hamstrings over time and cause tightness during standing and activity.

What Are The Complications Of Hamstring Tightness?

Hamstring tightness may cause the muscles and tendons to fail when they are needed to perform a stressful or rapid movement, thereby causing damage to them. Potential damage includes: hamstring sprains, strains, avulsion fractures, tendinitis, pulled hamstrings, and bursitis (mainly ischial bursitis and popliteal cysts). Many with tight hamstrings also experience back pain from the tightened hamstrings causing the hips and pelvis to rotate back and flatten the lower back. The tightened hamstring can also pull the knee out of its natural alignment, thereby leaving it open to an array of injuries.

 

Strengthening Exercises

These Hamstring Exercises are ideal to build strength and flexibility.

Massage Treatment

These Hamstring Massage Techniques are of great value in pain relief; circulation stimulation; dispersing blood and fluid accumulations; swelling reduction; and relaxing muscle spasms, especially when used alongside the Sinew Therapeutics liniments and soaks.

 

ACUTE STAGE SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT

 

This stage is characterized by swelling, redness, pain, and possibly a local sensation of heat, indicating inflammation. If coolness makes your pain feel better, then the Acute Stage Treatment is recommended.

 

ACUTE STAGE SYMPTOMS:

 

The acute stage starts the moment an injury occurs and lasts until the swelling and inflammation are gone. The swelling is the result of the blockage of blood, tissue fluids and circulation in the hamstring because their normal movement has been disrupted by the force of the injury. Just like cars back up behind a traffic jam, causing congestion, exhaust and overheating; blood and fluids back up behind the injured hamstring, causing pain, inflammation, lumps and swelling.

The sensation of heat is due to the warming action of the blood and fluids overheating in the injured hamstring as they back up and accumulate. Stiffness and decreased mobility are due to spasms in tendons and ligaments that have contracted reflexively beyond their normal range from the impact of the injury.

As ligaments and tendons stretch and tear, blood from ruptured blood vessels becomes trapped in the local tissues. As the trapped blood clots up, it sticks the tissues together creating adhesions. Adhesions cause pain, inflammation and restricted movement because the layers of tissue that used to slide smoothly across one another now adhere and snap which interferes with normal functioning. It is essential to break up clotted blood as quickly as possible to prevent adhesions and scar tissue from forming.

During the acute stage it is very important to restore normal circulation to the hamstring, break up clotted blood and stagnant fluids, reduce swelling, and reduce the redness and heat associated with inflammation. By restoring the flow of blood, fluids, and circulation in the hamstring, then pain is relieved, damaged tissues can regenerate with healthy functional tissue, and the hamstring can strengthen and regain it's mobility.

 

ACUTE STAGE TREATMENT:

 

1. Apply the Sinew Herbal Ice on your hamstring to reduce redness, swelling, and inflammation while dispersing accumulated blood and fluids to help restore normal circulation to the hamstring. This first-aid treatment is used in place of ice to significantly speed up the healing process. It reduces the swelling and inflammation more effectively than ice, allowing you to more quickly regain range of motion. Acute Sinew Liniment can be used in-between applications.

Ice is not recommended because it does not help repair damaged tissues and keeps everything in the injured area frozen, causing the stagnation of blood and fluids and the contraction of muscles, tendons and ligaments. In Chinese sports medicine ice is not used and is considered a culprit in injuries that donít heal well.

2. Massage your hamstring with Acute Sinew Liniment to relieve pain, reduce swelling and inflammation, break up clotted blood and stagnant fluids, and stimulate circulation of blood and fluids to help cells quickly repair damaged tissues. Sinew Herbal Ice can be used in-between applications.

3. The Sinew Sports Massage Oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It warms and stimulates your muscles, increases circulation and relieves tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.

 

 

CHRONIC STAGE SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT

 

This stage begins once the swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel pain, stiffness, weakness, and/or sensitivity in cold and damp weather. If heat makes your pain feel better, then the Chronic Stage Treatment is recommended.


CHRONIC STAGE SYMPTOMS:

 

The chronic stage begins once the swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel aching pain and stiffness. This is because there are still accumulations of stagnant blood and fluids in your hamstring that are blocking circulation and blood supply to damaged tissues, creating residual pain, stiffness and weakness. You may actually feel hard nodules like sand in the tissue, indicating accumulation, calcification, and adhesions, which all cause pain, stiffness, and joint instability.

Your hamstring may feel more sensitive to the cold and ache in cold and damp weather due to impaired circulation. When you move your hamstring you may hear a clicking or popping sound from the tendons and ligaments slipping very slightly in and out of their natural alignment indicating weakness and joint instability, causing chronic pain and a cycle of reinjury. These symptoms are often the result of failure to treat the injury properly from the outset and overicing.

Increasing circulation and blood supply to the damaged tissues is very important in treating chronic injuries because tendons and ligaments do not have an extensive direct supply of blood. That is why chronic injuries can be slow to heal. Increasing local circulation also prevents cold and dampness from penetrating the injured area, preventing pain and stiffness.

During the chronic stage it is very important to break up remaining accumulations of blood and fluids, and increase circulation and blood supply to the damaged tissues. By increasing circulation and blood flow in the hamstring, then pain and stiffness is relieved, and the tendons and ligaments can strengthen to restore stability.


CHRONIC STAGE TREATMENT:

 

1. Massage your hamstring with Chronic Sinew Liniment to relieve pain and stiffness, strongly stimulate circulation and blood flow to damaged tissues, and promote the healing of overstretched tendons and ligaments. The Sinew Relaxing Soak can be used in-between applications.

2. Soak your hamstring with the Sinew Relaxing Soak to relax muscles and tendons that are in spasm, ease joint pain and stiffness, and improve range of motion. The Sinew Relaxing Soak is particularly useful if you feel tightness in your hamstring. The soak can be used by saturating a towel in the liquid and applying it to your hamstring. Chronic Sinew Liniment can be used in-between applications.

3. The Sinew Sports Massage Oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It warms and stimulates your muscles, increases circulation and relieves tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.