Tight and sore hamstrings commonly occur during workout and exercise, but can just as easily result from a fall or other accident. Individuals usually experience pain located at the back of the thigh with associated weakness along with the feeling of the muscles becoming tighter and a consistent soreness. Consistent tightness in the back of the legs is not only uncomfortable but can also make movement difficult.
Many individuals stretch every day, do yoga, etc trying to relieve hamstring tension, with short-term relief only to have the tightness return. This is frustrating but more importantly, indicates that the problem might not have to do with the muscle’s length. There could be an underlying issue that needs to be identified and addressed. A chiropractic approach will diagnose and treat the root of the pain, not just the symptoms.
The hamstring is not a single string. It is a set of three muscles that run along the back of the thigh. The muscles allow for the bending of the leg at the knee. With a hamstring strain, one or more of these muscles can become overloaded and can start to tear. Strains often happen during activities that involve running, jumping, and/or sudden stopping and starting. This is where stretching doesn’t help, however, a chiropractic adjustment can help.
Weak Muscle Compensation
One possible cause for the tightness has to do with various related muscles and not the hamstrings themselves. Muscles that typically stabilize and facilitate movement could be too weak or are not functioning properly. What usually happens is that the muscles that are active have to work harder to compensate for the others that are not working/functioning properly.
The tension in the hamstrings can be alleviated through chiropractic exercises/stretches that activate the stabilizing muscles and get the circulation moving to promote strength and take the pressure off the hamstrings.
These muscle weaknesses can be caused by spinal misalignments that pull the body in an awkward fashion, throwing the body’s balance off. Each condition feeds the other as the hamstrings have to work harder, the body leans to the side that doesn’t cause pain, causing the spine to shift out of alignment and so begins the awkward body shifting to avoid the pain cycle. A chiropractic adjustment will restore balance and stability to the entire body.
A Pelvic Tilt
Pelvic tilt could be a contributing factor for tightness and soreness. This comes from:
- Poor posture
- Lack of physical activity
- Weight gain
These factors can cause the pelvis to shift forward ever so slightly. But just that slight tilting could be pulling on the hamstrings. In order to rectify the tilt, exercise is recommended, and chiropractic manipulation to realign any spinal shifting.
Another issue is sciatic nerve irritation that could mimic tightness in the muscles. The sciatic nerve runs down the back of the leg and the irritation could make the hamstring appear to be tight. This is where stretching the hamstrings can worsen the condition by irritating the sciatic nerve, causing inflammation.
The sciatic nerve could also be experiencing irritation from spinal misalignment. A vertebral disc could be bulging or herniated. This could inflame the nerve root. A bone spur or inflamed joint could be impinging/compressing on the nerve root exits.
A chiropractic treatment plan will relieve the tension being placed on the nerve and allow for proper blood circulation and transmission of signals without interruptions. Talk to a chiropractor about an examination to identify the exact root causing the discomfort.
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Hoskins, Wayne, and Henry Pollard. “Hamstring injury management–Part 2: Treatment.” Manual therapy vol. 10,3 (2005): 180-90. doi:10.1016/j.math.2005.05.001