Hamstrings Tightness- Can Pilates Help?

Pilates, Knee, Hip, Blog, / By Winsen Citra

Sitting too long in front of your screens? If you often wonder ‘why do my hamstring feel tight?’, then you’re not alone. Tight hamstrings are a common problem that affect both athletes and also sedentary office workers. Most people try to treat the tightness through stretching. However, it might not be the solution. This article will be focusing on hamstring tightness and how Pilates can help.

Hamstrings Anatomy

  • There are 3 muscles make up the group of hamstring muscles: biceps femoris, semimembranosis and semitendinosis
  • These muscles start at the base of the pelvis
  • The muscles run over both the hip and the knee joint down the back of the thigh and connect the pelvis to the knee.
  • The main action of the hamstring muscles are hip extension and knee flexion.
  • There is a nerve called the sciatic nerve  which is the biggest nerve in the body. It is also the one that most people associate with back pain.
  • The sciatic nerve starts in your lower back and runs down the back of your thigh, between the hamstrings and down the calf to the bottom of the foot.

Why Are My Hamstrings So Tight?

It can be caused by a variety of factors such as:

  • Prolonged sitting in a poor position
  • Misalignment or poor positioning of pelvic
  • Lower back instability or injuries
  • Trapped sciatic nerve
  • Lack of mobility in the hip joint
  • Old injuries: Hamstrings tear, overstrain

 In this article, we will focus on the postural factors that are due to prolonged sitting or sedentary lifestyles.

  • When your knees are bent in the seated position, the hamstrings are flexed and shortened. 
  • If you keep your hamstrings in a shortened position for hours daily, a few second or minute of stretching will not be enough to lengthen it.
  • Furthermore, prolonged sitting in poor posture also affects pelvic alignment. Sitting in a slouch  position makes you feel comfortable but it ruins your back and pelvis. 
  • Thus, they usually show posterior tilted pelvic or ‘sway back’ and indicate a muscular imbalance around the pelvis area. 
  • This causes the buttock muscles to become under-active, leading to over-active hamstring muscles as compensation.
  • Tight muscles in the hamstrings can further pull down on your buttock, which then rotates your pelvis backward, leading to back and leg pain. 

What Will Happens if I Don’t Care My Hamstrings Tightness?

  • Back pain: The hamstrings will continue to pull the pelvis and misalign the spine. This can aggravate some conditions relating to sciatica or low back pain.
  • Knee pain:  As the hamstrings attach to the back of the knee, it can affect the knee movement. The knee also works to achieve full extension with each stride. Hence, hamstring tightness leads to limited knee extension and irritates the knee’s front structures, causing knee pain.
  • Foot pain: Hamstring tightness leads to limited knee extension, which generates greater underfoot pressure during walking. Thereby, the soles of the feet will have to absorb uneven or excessive shock and create foot problems, including plantar fasciitis.

Can Pilates Help My Hamstrings Tightness? How?

Once you know that hamstrings tightness is the victim of another body part problem, then you should know that basic hamstring stretches rarely do much in your hamstrings flexibility for long lasting changes. Hence, Pilates is the one that should be used widely as it can improve overall body mobility and flexibility, including hamstrings tightness.

Even if you’ve never tried Pilates, simple exercises for beginners can yield noticeable results. The easiest way to do Pilates on your own is on a mat. Several beginner mat exercises will help to release tight hamstrings while strengthening them. 

Spine Forward stretch
1. Sit up tall with your legs straight and spread a little wider than the width of your hips. Straighten the arms around shoulder width apart.
(You can bend your legs if it’s impossible for you to sit up straight with your legs straight)

2. Inhale: ready.
3. Exhale: Round your back into a C Curve, starting by scooping out your low belly, then pulling the ribs in, and finally rounding your neck and head forward.
Feel the stretch from your back to back of your thigh.
4. Inhale: Stack up your spine, bone by bone.
5. Exhale: Finish sitting tall, in your starting position, with your arms extended in front of you and your shoulders relaxed and dropped.

 Downdog stretch

 1. Start from 4 points kneeling, tuck the toes under, press into the hands and begin to lift the hips up towards the ceiling

2. Inhale ready

3. Exhale. Lift up through the tailbone to keep the spine straight and long.

4. Inhale stay.

5. Exhale. Slightly bend at the knee one at a time to feel the stretch on hamstrings and back. keep the back flat throughout. Breathe and hold for 4-8 breaths.

6. To return, bend the knees and lower the hips back to Table position, or come all the way down to child pose or go forward to cobra pose.

Roll up

  • Lie face up with your arms extended toward the ceiling.
  • Inhale. Curl your chin to your chest. Roll up to your sitting position with your arms reaching toward your feet.
  • Exhale and reverse
  • Move slowly and smoothly 

Repeat 4- 8 times.
All the exercises are advised to do as you tolerated. We hope the above Pilates exercises are helpful for your hamstrings tightness. If you have any doubt or issue during your workout, feel free to contact us for telephysio. Also, check out our instagram page for more useful tips and videos.