Demystifying Tight Muscles – Why Stretching May Not Be For You

If you’re experiencing tight hamstrings, it would make sense to stretch them out, right?

Well, maybe not. It could actually just be compounding the real issue.

This image will tell you much of what you should know. When the pelvis is forward, the quads & hip flexors get tight and the hamstrings & abs become lengthened out.

Every muscle should have a degree of “slack” in it. If a muscle doesn’t have that slack, it can feel tight. Imagine a rope being pulled from both ends. That is usually what’s happening with tight muscles.

Things that cause tight hamstrings:

  • Sitting too much
  • Not exercising enough
  • Poor posture (which is usually related to the other two)

When the hamstrings are legthened out and weak, we usually end up in a posture called Anterior Pelvic Tilt. This happens for several reasons outlined in this deep-dive post on APT.

Stretching your hamstrings could make the problem worse because we would be trying to lengthen out an already legthened-out muscle. Instead, think about performing a 90/90 hip lift variation to help restore your pelvis to a more neutral orientation:

This concept applies to so much more than just hamstrings. If you are experiencing tight muscles, it could be because they are either too tight or too long.

Length-Tension Relationships

There is a concept in muscle physiology called “Length-Tension Relationships”. This means that every muscle needs to have a degree of resting “slack” in it.

I think it makes sense to most people why a shortened muscle can feel tight, but what most don’t realize is that if a muscle is chronically elongated, it is being chronically pulled away from its attachment sites.

Imagine a rope being pulled from both ends. This is essentially what is happening to those elongated muscles all the time.

** I would like to also say that there is nothing wrong with stretching. It can provide relief for people. But in this particular case, there is probably a better way to address the tightness.

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