Gina's Get Fit Blog

4 Potential Consequences of Running With Tight Hamstrings

Running uses all your leg muscles, including the hamstrings. Consisting of tendons and muscles, the hamstrings are located at the back of the thighs, and they work to bend the knee, extend and straighten the hip, and deliver explosive power when you run, jump or climb.

Unfortunately, many runners suffer from tight hamstrings. This can be down to genetics, but it's often simply due to a lack of stretching. Tight hamstrings might not sound like a huge deal, but here are just four potential consequences.

1. Impaired Performance

When your muscles are too tight, blood is squeezed out of them. This is particularly important for runners, since reduced blood flow means muscles aren't getting properly oxygenated and lactic acid isn't being properly removed. If you want to be running at 100%, you need to make sure your hamstrings aren't too tight.

2. Improper Form

Proper form is vital for a runner, though it's something many don't spend too much time perfecting. If your form is poor, you'll risk further injury and won't be moving in concert with the body's natural biomechanics—in either case, you're not going to be running as well as you should be. When the hamstrings are tight, you need to place the strain on other muscles, and you won't land as you should during each footfall.

3. Pulled Hamstring

If your hamstrings are too tight, they'll bear excessive pressure, especially when you need to run fast or head up a hill, so a pulled hamstring becomes more likely. The severity of this injury differs; you may simply suffer from a mild pull, or you may suffer a complete tear. In any case, a pulled hamstring can be extremely uncomfortable. You'll have to stop running until it heals, and you'll probably experience discomfort even when you're sitting on the couch watching TV.

4. Back Problems

As one of the leg muscles close to your pelvis and back, hamstring performance has a knock-on effect on your lower back. If the hamstrings are tight, your pelvic area and hips will rotate backwards when you run. This causes the lower back to flatten, which can lead to chronic back pain.

You may also experience sacroiliac joint pain, which results in discomfort across the left or right of the lower back. It often feels like a band of pain or discomfort. Pain can become acute enough to restrict movement—it can also start to radiate to the buttocks, groin and even to the testicles.

Contact a sports injury clinic for additional information.