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Why Oh Why Are My Hamstrings [insert any muscle here] Always Tight?

Updated: Jan 16

Written and medically reviewed by Dr. Brenda, DPT

You are doing yoga, you are diligently stretching your "problem areas" but you never feel like you get anywhere with your flexibility?  Have tight hamstrings despite all the stretching (classic)? Have you had this experience? Sometimes, it is not an issue with actual flexibility or range of motion in the joints.  We've all heard that tightness can be related to posture habits or activity, but did you know it can also be related to the body feeling unstable in certain ranges of joint motion and having to over-recruit muscles to hang on for dear life?  Think about this…..someone is trying to get their hips to open up.  This someone is doing pigeon pose, moving through yoga hip openers, but still saying her hips are "so tight".  Often, when someone like this starts working their deep hip stability muscles - those little deep hip rotator and pelvic floor muscles - their larger muscles realize the joint is safe and stable and they can chill out a little.  Ah ha, the hips “open up”.  This is something that I see all the time through my work.  As awareness and control of the inner core and increases, chronic tightness decreases. Or, conversely, sometimes those deep muscles need to be able to relax a little once they feel "safe" - it's all about balance. Common places of over-recruitment in someone who has lost some connection to their inner core are the inner thighs (adductors), the glutes, the IT bands, the paraspinals (mid and low back), the hip flexors, and even the neck (upper traps).   When your body is not engaging your deep core effectively it's out of balance, despite how strong your outer abdominal wall is and how much "core work" you do! The body is very smart and so if certain muscles aren’t kicking in, other ones have to pick up the slack.  So tell your body “you’re safe” by finding your movement blind spots and improving your stability.....and then watch your mobility increase.  True mobility = flexibility + stability!

Want to explore more in your own body? Contact me!


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