How to assess run-specific hamstring flexibility


How to Test:

In this video, I take you through a very simple and effective way to assess hamstring flexibility.

Increases in total running mileage and / or the percentage of faster paced running often results in increased hamstring tightness and shortness. Remember that these two things (shortness and tightness) can feel the same, but are different. Know the difference!

IF you are a runner, this information might be very helpful for you:

The hamstrings have TWO primary roles during running:

  • They act to decelerate the forward swinging leg during the swing phase of the stride, and…

  • They work synergistically with the hips and glutes during the mid-stance phase of the stride to extend the hip. If you do a fair percentage of faster running, that’s even more true.

The hamstring muscles are also great compensators! What do I mean?

When there is any instability in the core or hips, the hamstrings can feel chronically tight because they’re being asked to compensate by attempting to lessen lateral pelvic drop.

Check out the images above: These are before/after pictures taken after the runner did a gait analysis and then embarked on some smart training.

In the picture on the left, imagine the amount of stress on the hamstring muscle in the left leg as it would attempt to lessen how much the hip is dropping on the right. This is tissue compensation in action! It is almost as though the hamstring is trying to “grab” the area above it to keep it from moving too much.

In the picture on the right, because the hips and core are more stable, there is less need for the hamstring muscle to compensate. As a result, the tightness which existed (that was only because of the compensation) simply goes away.

Food for thought! This is a good reminder that injury-free running requires every body part doing its job.

It’s not about where the pain or sensations are felt. When it comes to the hamstring muscles, it is often much more about what is causing the sensations in the first place!