Since an accident back in January, I’ve had a problem with tight hamstring in the left leg which got injured. It was never particularly painful and it didn’t stop me cycling. But, tight hamstrings are not something to ignore as it can be a sign of long-term problems. Also, just resting tight hamstrings is not enough for solving the issue. A few weeks ago Cycling Weekly had a good article on tight hamstrings, which was good timing for me.
I’ve been trying three things to help loosen the tight hamstring.
1. Trigger Point massage roller
I bought one of these massage foam rollers from Amazon. Trigger Point Performance Foam Roller
They are £35. They work best on massage the back of your thighs, where your hamstrings are. It is harder to massage others parts of your legs. But, it feels good and the product seems well made. In the absence of access to a massage, these feel like they do a good job in giving some kind of massage. They are particularly helpful for stretching the hamstrings.
There are quite a few different stretches for the hamstring. I do two main stretches using a belt to pull against. Whilst lying on the floor. I bought a stretch strap specifically for this purpose. (Stretch strap) though it does kind of annoy me to spend £10 for a piece of cloth. Since I left it in Yorkshire, I tried two belts together, though I have to admit, it’s not as good.
Muscle dynamic stretch. Lie on your back. Place a non-elastic belt around the ball of your foot. Lift your leg slowly to the point of flex, keeping knee straight and ankle flexed. Hold for 2 seconds and repeat 10-15 times.
A simpler stretch for the hamstring is:
- Sit on the floor with both legs out straight.
- Extend your arms and reach forward by bending at the waist as far as possible while keeping your knees straight.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds.
- Relax. Repeat.
This article on hamstrings, suggests:
- Very frequent stretching (every hour), if you really want to loosen the hamstring
- Don’t stretch to discomfort because this can be counter-productive. Instead stretch until first sign of resistance.
3. Core exercises to strengthen lower back and glutes. A ‘tight’ hamstring can be caused due to weakness in the glutes, lower back because in the absence of strength here, the hamstrings are forced to compensate.This was probably the cause of my problem. My left glute lost significant muscle when injured.
Causes of tight hamstrings in cyclists
Spending a lot of time in the seated position
High saddle height.
Putting too much strain on legs when tired
Weakenss in glutes and core strength