Identifying Tight Hamstring Symptoms
Try these simple tests to see if you have tight hamstrings symptoms:
- While standing, slowly shift your weight back to your heels and push your hips back as far as possible. When you notice that your lower back starts to round, you should stop immediately.
- This position shows you the full length of your hamstrings. Ideally, you want the angle between your thighs and torso to be approximately 90 degrees.
- If you are unable to bend at least this far, you are probably experiencing tight hamstring symptoms.
If you are seeing a physical therapist for lower leg or back pain, they might assess your tight hamstring symptoms and hamstring flexibility this way:
The therapist will have you lie on your back and relax. They will lift your relaxed, straight leg up until you indicate that it is uncomfortable to go any further up. Before you even feel a stretch, the therapist will probably notice increased resistance but will wait to stop until you indicate that you cannot go any further. Ideally, your leg should go vertically upwards without pain in a 90 degree motion. If your range is below 80 degrees, you have tight hamstrings.
Tight Hamstrings or Strained
Tight hamstring symptoms are different from that of symptoms for a hamstring strain or injury. A hamstring pull is a muscle strain where muscle fibers are torn either partially or completely. If you have a hamstring injury you probably will know it right away. The first indication might be a sudden, sharp pain in the back of the thigh. After that sharp pain, it will be hard to straighten your leg out all of the way without experiencing pain. A doctor may order a CT scan or MRI to better diagnose more serious injuries.
People who suffer from a hamstring injury will typically feel a sudden, sharp pain in the back of the thigh. They might also feel a popping or a tearing sensation. Swelling and tenderness will probably occur within a few hours of the initial injury. Other symptoms include bruising or discoloration along the back of the leg, muscle weakness or the inability to put weight on the injured leg. As with any injury, it is important to be checked out by a medical professional for the proper diagnosis and treatment.
Why are Tight Hamstrings a Problem?
Experiencing tight hamstring symptoms can be a minor nuisance or a significant problem depending on your physical activities. If tight hamstrings start taking over your posterior-chain movements, you can end up suffering from painful muscle pulls that force you to the sidelines. Your posterior chain runs from your lower back down behind your legs and plays a major role in any athletic movement you’re looking to perform like running, jumping or throwing.
If your hamstrings become too tight, then your pelvis can get pulled into a backward tilt. When this happens, your natural lumbar curve can change and then you have a flat-back posture. This posture is a problem because relatively minor injuries like muscle pulls can change into potentially serious back injuries.
All of this because of some tight hamstrings!