Hamstring Assessment. Are Your Hamstrings ACTUALLY Tight?
I was standing there in disbelief. I was watching this advanced yoga practitioner standing right in front of me and he showed me how he could touch his elbows to the floor without bending his knees. I have never in my life seen somebody with such flexible hamstrings.
After hearing his story, and how much yoga has helped him to calm down his mind, I asked him how I could help. It was his first appointment with me in my personal training studio.
His response sent my jaw to the floor. I couldn't believe it.
He wanted me to help him with his issue of…
Are you ready for this?
His number one complaint was that his hamstrings always felt tight.
Are you are surprised as I was? How can a man who is so obviously flexible have tight hamstrings?
Well, the answer is that he doesn't. His hamstrings are extremely flexible, in fact they are too flexible.
Upon further investigation, I determined that he has a very anteriorly tilted pelvis. This helps him with his hamstring flexibility, yet does not provide enough stability for his whole body.
His issue was very simple. Because his hips are tilted forward, or anterior, the hamstrings are always under a constant pull. So that feeling of hamstring tightness is actually the feeling that his hamstrings always at the end of the range of motion.
The solution for this particular client was to strengthen the hamstrings and abdominals. We also needed to elongate the hip flexors.
Within a few weeks he stopped complaining of his hamstring tightness. He also lost a few inches of hamstring flexibility. However, he could still touch his hands to the floor very easily.
The reason I tell the above story is that although this Yogi was extremely flexible, this pattern is very common. I've also seen it in an elderly woman who could fold her self and a half forward, but could not even grab her foot when doing a quad stretch.
The hamstrings can play tricks on you. So how do you know if they're too tight or too weak? I alluded to it earlier, with the tilt of that man's hips.
From the side view locate the bone at the front of the hip which is called the ASIS, and then the bone at the back of the hip which is called the PSIS.
The angle should be directly horizontal or with just a very slight anterior tilt. If you have a very big anterior tilt, your hamstrings are already being pulled... (and you don't need to be stretching your hamstrings!).
Do the following exercise. How hard is it?
There are four possible results of the test. See the table below and score yourself.
Hopefully this helps you realize that you can't simply go based off of feeling tight. You need to remember that the feeling might be there because the hamstrings are weak. Regardless, you now have one more tool in your toolbox to assess your own strengths and limitations.
If you have any additional questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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