Do you know that a shocking 30 million Americans suffer from knee pain, and many of them have chronic knee pain? One in every four American adults has chronic knee pain. That one American can be your mom or dad, your spouse, your closest friend, or you yourself.
Just imagine what you will be restricted from doing or will be no longer able to do when you have a bad knee. It can alter the rhythm of your whole life.
On analyzing the causes of this condition, it was found that the reason for knee pain can be as different as possible. But what are some common causes?
Can it be any of the medications that you are taking? Is it hereditary? What if it is any of the past accidents or injuries? Or, can it be the muscles themselves? All these can be a reason. Shockingly, the reason why you have a bad knee can be the muscles itself.
One of the significant muscles in the body, that runs from the hip to the knee along the backside of the thigh, namely the hamstring muscles, is estimated to be one of the reasons why you have knee pain.
Let’s find out what’s the role of the hamstring in your body, how it affects your knee, how it causes knee pain, and how you can get rid of that.
Before that, let us address the question “What is hamstring?”, as all of you might not be familiar with it. So, dive in right away and do not stop reading until you have come across everything that you want to know.
What Is Hamstring?
Unlike anything the term ‘hamstring’ suggests, it is a group of muscles, important in any human body. A group of three muscles are togetherly called hamstring muscles. They are present on the back of the thighs. They start from the hip and run just below the knee.
These muscles play major roles when you extend your hips when you flex your knees, in the internal and external rotation of the lower leg when the knee is slightly flexed or flexed, and also in the internal and external rotation of the thighs when the hip is extended.
Just like hamstrings have a large role in all these functions, their presence in the list of muscles that get easily injured is also at the top.
Between, ever wondered why these muscles are called “hamstrings”? Let us take you into that before we go any further. The term “ham” originated from the Old English term ham or hom which means the hollow or the bend in the knee.
“String” is used to refer to tendons and therefore, when ham and string are combined to form the word hamstrings, it refers to the tendons that are like strings. It is found on both of the sides of the knees on the posterior part.
Any damage that happens to these can cause muscle imbalances and tire the muscles. This can also cause the muscles to lose their original stretchability causing you pain when you try to move or stretch.
Our readers have been asking “Can hamstring tightness cause knee pain?” Because at least for some, it might not be as easy to accept that the reason for the knee pain can be one of the muscles in the body itself. Apparently, the answer to the question is yes. It can cause knee pain, severe pain that can limit your movements.
Do You Have Tight Hamstrings? How To Know?
It is not really that difficult to know whether you have tight hamstrings. Continue reading to know the symptoms of tight hamstrings:
Most Common Symptoms Of Tight Hamstring
- Knee stiffness
- Difficulty in running
- Feeling uneasy while jumping
- Pain while walking
- Pain while doing any movements that involve knee movements
- Cannot easily stretch legs
- Cramps while bending knees
You will feel that your mobility has been restricted in general. If you feel these symptoms and your knees are in constant pain while doing all these actions, then you are at high risk of having tight hamstrings.
Other Symptoms Of Tight Hamstring
These are also the symptoms that might appear in some people who have tight hamstrings:
- Bruising in knees
- Redness in the area
- Tenderness in knees
Note that anyone having a tight hamstring might not have this and those who have these symptoms are not necessarily having tight hamstrings.
One of the most commonly asked questions are “Can tight hamstrings cause knee swelling?” Let us answer that by saying “yes”. When your hamstrings are tight it is not in the normal size that a hamstring should be. These unhealthy size variations and the stiffness might cause swelling in some people.
What Tightens The Hamstrings?
First of all, you have to have an eye on your lifestyle. There are chances of some of your habits damaging your hamstrings. You might not be doing that if they have further health complications. Some of the physical activities that you are doing can cause the hamstrings to get tight and stiff.
Let’s have a look at what they are so that the next time you can be cautious when you perform those.
- Exercises that focus on the limbs or the ones that need the support of the legs to lift the body and similar can have a lot of pressure on the hamstrings.
- Sports activities can also strain the hamstrings as these involve heavy leg movements. Some of such activities are:
- Track and field
- Dance – Dance usually involves a lot of movements with the legs.
These are some of the movements in daily life that can have stress on your hamstring muscles. Therefore, you have to perform these things with awareness.
What To Do Once You Know Your Hamstrings Are Tight?
It is not difficult to relax your hamstrings. You can have access to a lot of treatment methods once you have this. Be very sure that you do not take advice from any social media personalities or any random magazines. While you get the treatment done, get it from certified professionals.
Common Treatments For Tight Hamstrings
Let us see what are some of the common treatment methods used to help those who have tight hamstrings.
- Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is a common treatment for those who suffer from tight hamstrings. When you approach a physical therapist, they will make you undergo a detailed and thorough examination to check whether you have any injuries.
- Massage Therapy
When you go for massage therapy, the certified therapist will target the exact muscles and tissues that you have a problem with and will apply a wide range of massage techniques to help your hamstrings relax.
- Hot Packs / Cold Packs
Hot packs or cold packs are used to relieve the swelling that you have on the knee. This can be due to the natural hamstring tightness, or the tightness caused due to an accident.
- Anti-inflammatory Medications
Anti-inflammatory medications are used when the muscles need to be loosened but exercises and therapies can not solely support that. In such cases, you will have to get the assistance of medications to speed up the process and to help the body.
Common Relief Methods For Tight Hamstrings
You have read about the common treatments that you can get, that are easy to get when you have stiff hamstrings. Now, let’s read about the common relief methods that anyone does. These are usually practiced by people before going to medication or health care professionals. Also, some who have received assistance from professionals do this to give additional support to the body
You can perform exercises that help the hamstrings relax. Consult a professional to do the exercises in the right way. When you do exercises, train slowly, take time to learn the movements and postures, and then start doing it. Just like some of the exercises can stress you, you can relieve these muscles by exercise.
There are tight hamstrings and knee pain stretches. When you prepare to do these stretches, you have to be extra careful, as doing them in the wrong way can have adverse effects on you. So start training under the supervision of a trained professional and make them observe you doing the stretches. With their guarantee that you are doing the things in the right way, you can proceed to do the stretches.
- Stretches For Tight Hamstrings
Let’s see how you can perform the various stretches. You can do them by lying down on the floor, or an even surface.
There are stretches that can be done by sitting or standing.
How To Prevent The Hamstrings Getting Tight?
- Do stretch regularly
- Activities that promote flexibility
- Exercises that focus on leg muscles:
- Hamstring curls – Lie down on the floor, your face downwards. Focus on the core, and slowly bend the knees. While doing this, keep your back straight. Gently lift the lower legs and bring them closer to the glutes. Now gently extend them. Repeat this. This is how you do hamstring curls.
- You can also do squats, calf raises, box jumps, lunges, deadlifts, single-leg deadlifts
- Stay active – Being inactive and not doing any physical activities or exercises for a long period of time can result in the hamstring muscles getting tight.
Let us answer one more of the most asked questions before the article ends “Can tight hamstrings cause inner knee pain?” Some studies have shown that tight hamstrings might result in inner knee pain. One of the reasons that can cause the inner knees to ache is the tight muscles in the leg, and helping them to loosen can solve a lot of problems.
To Take Away
When it comes to knee health, a lot of factors can negatively affect the proper functioning of the knees. The muscles that support the movements need to be not too tight and not too relaxed. When the hamstrings, the muscles that support bending and flexing, get tight, it can affect the whole knee mobility.
After going through the sections given above, you know how to identify tight hamstrings and what to do in case you have one. You also know about the wide variety of exercises and stretches that can be done.
Make sure that you do everything in the right way, and do not stress yourself too much. Even after doing all these and still, you feel the stiffness, do not hesitate to consult your doctor.
Q. Can tight hamstrings be cured?
Generally, most of the tight hamstrings can be treated with exercises or stretches.
Q. Why do my hamstrings get tight so easily?
Commonly, it can be due to lifestyle factors. Lack of physical activity can be a reason, as well as doing a lot of activities can also stress the hamstrings.
Q. Why will my hamstrings not loosen?
If you feel that your hamstrings are not just loosening then there can be something wrong with the hip, lower back, pelvis, or some kind of joint mobility issues.
Q. Are tight hamstrings weak?
Tight hamstrings might seem strong and rigid, but in actuality, they might be weak. They also might be longer than needed.