Tight hamstrings are incredibly common among endurance runners. And that makes sense – the hamstring muscles are one of the largest muscle groups in the body.
Look at all those hamstring muscles!
But how do you differentiate between a common (but not serious) problem like tight hamstrings and a more serious version, an actual hamstring strain?
First, it’s always helpful to understand what we’re talking about.
The hamstrings are made up of three different hamstring muscles with hilarious names:
- Biceps femoris
It’s one of the largest muscle complexes in the body and this group has the herculean job of decelerating your lower leg when the quadriceps contract. This straightens the leg and acts as a brake, helping your knee avoid hyperextension with each stride.
Tight hamstrings – or even a hamstring strain – are usually caused by poor training or problems with running form.
Training factors that can cause hamstring injuries include:
And the major aspect of running technique that can contribute to tight hamstrings is aggressive over-striding where you reach out in front of your body.
But you’re also at higher risk of a hamstring injury if you’ve already had an injury in this muscle, are sprinting while tired, or have an imbalance (stronger, more dominant quads can increase your risk of this particular injury).
Now that we have a better understanding of the hamstring muscle function and the training errors that can contribute…