8 minute reset for tight hamstrings
Last article, we tackled four exercises to help unlock tight hips, including ones that release restricted glutes and hip rotator muscles. These muscles are part of the “posterior chain”, a term that represents muscles that take up real estate on the backside of our body. And in the case of the glutes and rotators, our literal, ahem, “backside”. Other muscles that comprise our posterior chain are the spinal erectors, latissimus dorsi, hamstrings, and calves. General rule of thumb: if it’s hard to see the muscle without a mirror, it’s likely part of your posterior chain. The balance of mobility and strength of the posterior chain muscles has significant impacts on our running power and injury resilience. So, let’s travel down the chain to the next serious player: the hamstrings.
The hamstrings are actually a group of three muscles with a shared tendon and attachment point on the “sit bone'', or the part of the pelvis directly below the glute maximus. Each of the three muscles also attach on the inside or outside portion of the knee. This muscle group is vitally important to running power. It also stabilizes the knee while running, particularly during the stance phase of our stride by co-contracting with the quad. Tightness or weakness in the hamstrings can increase the effort needed to maintain a given pace of any run, not just speed workouts. Additionally, it can affect the long-term likelihood of pulling or tearing the hamstring, or worse, injuring ligaments in our knee. We will deep dive how to correct weakness of the posterior chain in future articles. For now, let’s look at relieving tightness.
The order of this routine is important: start sitting, progress to standing. It begins in a seated position so the hamstrings are fully relaxed and able to be passively mobilized, i.e. no muscle action needed from the hamstring or adjacent muscles. However, as the routine progresses, exercises are completed in the standing position. This is ideal as it incrementally readies the hamstrings for the specific task at hand and thus is great for pre-run or any free 8 minute period in your day!