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Stop Stretching Your Tight Hamstrings

Stop Stretching Your Tight Hamstrings Barefoot Rehabilitation Clinic

28 Feb Stop Stretching Your Tight Hamstrings

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Tight hamstrings plague people. When you have tight hamstrings, you’ve had them for a really long time and it doesn’t seem to matter how much you stretch, your tight hamstrings never get more flexible.

If your hamstrings were just “tight,” your stretching interventions would’ve worked by now.

I’m going to share with you a little secret that will change your life when it comes to your tight hamstrings.

That secret is …

Your Hamstrings Aren’t Tight

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler. ~Albert Einstein

This is an occasion where “tight” hamstrings is too simple. If it were that simple, the tightness would’ve gone away by now.

“Tightness” is more complex than that.

Normal muscle tightness gets better within a 1-2 months of stretching. Heck, you don’t even need to stretch to get more flexible if this were the case. You’d only need to be doing fuller range of motion movements to get rid of that tightness.

What are fuller range of motion movements?

Squat ass-to-grass, lunge with your trailing leg’s butt cheek fully squeezed, press a barbell overhead, or hang from the pull-up bar. When I was learning to squat as low as possible, the Cossack Stretch (see below video) helped me gain range of motion I never had before. I didn’t even have a set, rep, or goal for doing the Cossack Stretch over the first few months I was CrossFitting.

Just doing it, without any structure, made me more flexible rather quickly.

Let’s agree, right now, that if you’ve been stretching more than a month, no matter how much you’ve been shotgunning, foam-rolling, lacrosse-balling, stretching on your own or having your friends try to turn you into a pretzel, that what you have been doing isn’t working.

Capiche?

Your tight hamstrings are a bit more complex than that.

Possible Problem #1: Your Sciatic Nerve is Tight

Go ahead and get your stretching friend right now. We’re going to do one part of the hamstring stretch test.

Have your friend lift your leg like they’re stretching your hamstring.

Then, when you’re feeling a good “stretch” in any location, have them push the ball of your foot down about 1″ (like in the image below), nothing more than that.

hamstring-stretch-test-with-Dorsiflexion

If the “stretch” in your hamstring got more intense when your toes were pushed down, you, my friend, have a sciatic nerve problem.

Even though it feels like your hamstring is tight, what you’re actually feeling is a hamstring contraction message sent by your brain to protect your sciatic nerve. Because nerves don’t like being pulled tight and they’ll protect themselves any way they can.

What You Need to Do: All we know is that your sciatic nerve is angry and fired up. The location where it is glued and stuck can be your low back, your butt, or your hamstrings. In order to figure out where, I recommend you find a reputable adhesion-removal provider to fix this.

If you live in North Jersey, Barefoot Rehab is the only practice certified in the area to find and fix adhesion. Call us at 862-205-4847.

You might be thinking:

Stretching at least allows me to continue doing what I’m doing. Why shouldn’t I stretch my hamstrings?

The short answer is, “You’re allowing your problems to grow bigger, under the radar.”

Tricking the nervous system only works in the short-term. That’s why the tightness you have that goes away with stretching and after workouts returns when you wake up the next morning.

Possible Problem #2:  Your Low Back is Injured and Your Hamstrings are Contracting, Which You Feel as “Tight”

Here’s a video (4:26 seconds long) of a patient of ours who was getting physical therapy for tight hamstrings when he came into our office and we diagnosed him correctly and proceeded to fix his hamstring pain in 6 treatments.

Tell your friend to go get his favorite pencil.

We’re about to do the most complex, most sophisticated, elaborate test for the low back that exists in the history of the world, the pencil test, aka, as it’s known in the yoga world, the Cat-Cow Test.

Have your friend put the pencil right on the midline of your low back.

If your friend sees a space under the pencil like there is under the 2″ mark on the pencil ruler below, it’s safe to assume your hamstrings are tight because your low back is functioning at 40% (or less) of its potential.

low-back-function-40-percent

What You Need to Do: If that’s you, I hope that you had an acute low back injury in the last week or so. It’s possible this range of motion will get better all on it’s own.

If you haven’t had a low back injury recently, then you need to find a reputable adhesion-removal provider to fix this. You could try doing 1,000 repetitions of the cat-cow per day, but I’ve never seen someone gain this range of motion back in the low back with stretching.

Possible Problem #3: The Adhesion in Your Hamstrings Is Tight

If you passed problems #1 and #2, then by default, you probably fall into this category.

I assume you did the hamstring stretch test and the pencil test and you passed both according to the standards we set in this post.

Good.

Still, you probably have been stretching for more than 1-2 months without a permanent improvement.

You don’t have a sciatic nerve issue. You don’t have a low back issue.

Then, what is it?

The most straight-forward and easiest problem for a reputable adhesion-removal provider to fix is adhesion in your hamstrings.

Check out this bodybuilder. The good thing about bodybuilders is that it’s easy to see the outline of their muscles.

hamstrings

There are three individual muscles that make up the hamstrings. Two make up the inside hamstrings (the blue triangle below), and one makes up the the outside hamstring muscle (the green triangle).

You can probably envision, in your mind’s eyes, the need for the blue and green hamstring muscles to slide and contract past each other. When adhesion (the red squiggles) glues the muscles together, the hamstrings can’t slide and contract past one another.

hamstring-adhesion

When you stretch, you lengthen all of the healthy parts of the muscle instead of the precise location (the adhesion) that needs to be stretched.

What You Need to Do: The good thing about adhesion in the hamstring is that your risk of injury is lower than if you had problems #1 and #2 and you don’t want to do anything about it. The bad news is that the adhesion isn’t going anywhere unless you  find a reputable adhesion-removal provider to fix this.

What if you don’t want to see a doctor or provider to help you with your tight hamstrings?

Unfortunately, tight hamstrings requires that you see someone to fix it.

If you don’t want to fix your tight hamstrings but you want to stay active, stretching can allow you to be active without injuring your hamstrings in the short-term. But there’s a cost to going this route. The cost is that your problem will get worse faster and more exponentially over the next few months to years than if you didn’t use it.

My primary recommendation if you don’t want to get it fixed is that you:

  • don’t stretch.
  • don’t provoke any hamstring or low back symptoms of any kind.

Symptoms includes sensations such as pinching, ache, dullness, sharpness, throbbing, and other sensations that you can’t describe with words.  Soreness is OK, as long as it’s equal on both sides.

If you do a workout and you feel no sensation of worsening, that was a good, low-risk workout.

If you do a month of works and you feel no worsening, that was a good month. There’s lower risk of injury progressing over time.

As soon as you do movements or workouts that intensify soreness on one side or give you the funny feeling of the hamstrings feeling different, then you’re walking in risky territory.

Just stop fooling yourself by stretching and thinking your tight hamstrings are going to get better or more flexible. They’re not.

In summary, the secret to that will change your life when it comes to tight hamstrings or anything that you’re doing that isn’t producing results is to simply:

Stop doing stuff that isn’t working.

Again, to quote Albert Einstein:

Insanity is stretching (or foam rolling) your tight hamstrings month after month, year after year, with no improvement … only to stretch some more.

speechbubblesWhat’s the deeper cause of your tight hamstrings? How long have you been stretching your tight hamstrings? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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Dr. Chris Stepien, DC, Full-Body ID Certified, ART Certified, CSCS, and CrossFit Level 1 Certified, fixes your annoying and frustrating pains, even when it's been over 6 months and you've seen 3-5 other doctors or therapists without lasting relief Barefoot Rehab in Denville, NJ. And when you're sad, depressed, or not enjoying life, Dr. Chris wants to hug you. He invites you to reach out, no matter what your concern is. Barefoot Rehab is here to serve you.
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36 Comments
  • Dave Brochin
    Posted at 03:22h, 12 September Reply

    Not clear on the pencil test. It’s lined up vertically over your lower spine and we’re looking for gaps underneath? Or its placed horizontally…? Please clarify.

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 11:55h, 12 September Reply

      Hi Dave, the Pencil Test post (https://www.barefootrehab.com/pencil-test-low-back-pain/) may give you the answer to your question. You’re laying the pencil on the person’s back. It’s not really going horizontally or vertically. When the person flexes (or rounds the spine up), it will be at an oblique angle to the horizon. Then yes, you’re looking for gaps OR for how much of the pencil is flat against the back. Hope that makes sense? Let me know if not.

  • Linda
    Posted at 08:35h, 03 February Reply

    Hi, I recently started stretching in the morning as I felt guilty of not exercising. Shortly after, I experienced this knife like stabbing pains running on my hamstring and worsens at nights which hurts so bad I would cry myself to sleep. What did I do wrong and what medication should I take because the pain in unbearable. I used to be able to bend forward and reach towards my toes and my head would be able to touch my knees. Now I can’t even bend at all.

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 14:33h, 03 February Reply

      Hi Linda, if you created stabbing pains and night pains due to stretching, it’s like that you have Problems #1 or #2 above (sciatic nerve or disc issue). The disc issue is more probably if you can’t bend at all. That’s the whole point of this blog post is that blindly stretching can cause more harm than good. For now, I’d do cat-cow to gently let the disc recover. Hope this is helpful.

  • Amon
    Posted at 07:32h, 23 February Reply

    Hello,

    im having Hamstring tightness in my right leg only, especially after Squatting and the day after. My right hamstring is always under tension. My left leg is perfectly fine. Ive passed test 1 and 2 and im already pretty mobile, doing yoga for over a year already and stuff. Could you tell me what else i could try?

    Kind regards

    Maximilian Amon

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 20:55h, 23 February Reply

      Hi Amon, by test 1 and test 2, I assume you mean the “hamstring stretch test” and the “pencil test”. If that’s true, can you redo them and send me videos/pictures of the person who is doing the test on you. You will need two other people (one to test you, one to record you). I need a video of the HST and a picture of the PT.

      Next, do the Thigh to Chest Test (https://www.barefootrehab.com/know-numbers-thigh-to-chest-test/)

      It’s possible that if you have hip joint problems, the hamstring (or more likely, groin muscles that feel like hamstring muscles) are over-contracting to protect it. Get me more feedback and I’ll do the best I can to help you.

  • Melanie
    Posted at 06:16h, 01 March Reply

    Hi there. I recently learned I have symptomatic Tarlov Cysts in my L5-S1 and my S2. Since the symptoms/ pain has started my hamstrings are horrible. I can’t straighten them out and touch my toes , heck even trying to bend forward while legs are straight is a nightmare. It’s not a very well known about issue so if you ha e no input I understand and appreciate you reading this anyways.

  • Dr. Chris
    Posted at 13:51h, 01 March Reply

    Hi Melanie, I’m sorry about your hamstrings. The good thing about knowing you have Tarlov cysts (which I assume have been diagnosed with MRI) is that the solution to your hamstring pain is addressing the cysts. Unfortunately, this may mean surgery. With a severe enough problem like that, I highly recommend you see a specialist who can see if you have OTHER contributing problems (i.e. adhesion around your discs or your sciatic nerve at the hip external rotators or at the hamstring). If you told me you were going to do surgery first, I would understand that reasoning. Let me know how I can support you.

  • Kari Gansch
    Posted at 14:13h, 13 March Reply

    Good morning! I’m an athlete, trainer, boxing fitness instructor, self defense trainer and am plagued with HORRIBLY tight hamstrings. I found out 2 years ago that I had spondylolisthesis of the L5 S1. It had 16mm of movement, so they fused me. My legs never seem straight. There always appears to be a bend in my knees. I’ve tried stretching, rolling, deep tissue massage (which was AWFUL) and I thought I was dying afterwards… lol. But honestly, NOTHING seems to work. I related to this article more than any other that I’ve read… and I’m well aware of my need to avoid any hip hinging exercises, such as kettlebell swings, good mornings and etc… they even seize up with some core work and hip bridges. I’m BEYOND frustrated. I live in a small town and there aren’t any adhesion removal providers near by… but with the work that I do, this is really becoming frustrating. Any help is greatly appreciated! Thank you!!!!

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 14:02h, 14 March Reply

      Hi Kari, I’m so sorry for your frustration. Hang in there. Notice you said, “they even seize up with some core work and hip bridges.” Let me tease this statement out for you. Core work and hip bridges are NOT stressing (or loading) your hamstrings, at least to any significant amount. Core work and hip bridges ARE loading your low back (esp. L5-S1). Therefore, if your hamstrings seize during core work and hip bridges, AND your hamstrings aren’t loaded but your L5-S1 is loaded, can you now see how your hamstring “seizing” and “horribly tight” hamstrings are coming from your low back?

      When you say “NOTHING seems to work”, well, unfortunately, with high probability, that’s a true statement. Even if you could get to my office, I wouldn’t be optimistic that I could help you based on the previous damage to L5-S1. If you ever can get to an adhesion removal specialist, it would be worthwhile to see if they can milk any more range out of your hamstrings BY LOOKING AT YOUR LOW BACK. But for now, stop doing stuff. You’ll save yourself a lot of emotional stress.

      I know that’s a deep rabbit hole. Use your time to process, emotionally. Deal with your emotional reasons for beating yourself up through exercise. I know because I’ve been there.

  • Aris
    Posted at 04:11h, 16 June Reply

    I’ve done yoga for years and recently my hamstrings have been SO tight, I can barely do a forward fold (used to be able to reach past two yoga blocks). I wasn’t injured- it literally just keeps getting tighter and tighter. What’s going on???

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 12:26h, 16 June Reply

      Hi Aris, it’s both hamstrings equally? If that’s correct, there’s usually a common denominator responsible for both hamstrings (or two muscles) getting tight and it’s most probably that your low back is on the brink of pain. Have someone perform the pencil test on you and report back in? https://www.barefootrehab.com/pencil-test-low-back-pain/

  • Fran Lombardi
    Posted at 17:22h, 18 June Reply

    The last four or five years my left leg only has been tight and needs to be stretched constantly. I get a monthly massage and started seeing a chiropractor for a few months every week. How long does this usually take to fix? There’s no pain, just discomfort. I like to work out, but don’t overdue it.

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 17:34h, 18 June Reply

      I’m sorry for the stretching Fran. The first question is, “Why does it need to be stretched?” If you have no low back pain and your Pencil Test (Google “barefoot rehab pencil test”) is fullish, it’s less likely low back and more likely adhesion either at your sciatic nerve and butt cheek or adhesion in your hamstring. Where do you live? Go to integrativediagnosis.com and click “find a provider” to see if someone is near you. It would take 1-5 treatments to significantly reduce your need to stretch it.

  • Kristian Francis
    Posted at 23:29h, 05 July Reply

    Is it possible to have all 3 cases? It all started when i pulled my right hamstring sprinting at football practice.. After a month I saw no progress so I went to a physical therapist and they said it was my back, not my hamstring, Even though my hamstring was blue. (Not any more specific than that) My back didn’t hurt at all at this period. After 2 months of physical therapy, I started to feel back pain, so I quit going. I played a season of football even though the pain and limited range of movement prohibited me from pretty much everything. After football season I went to a chiropractor because I kept having shocking sensations and constant aching in my right hamstring (with no physcial activity) and they had me take an MRI. He said I had 2 bulged discs in my lower back, but that shouldnt be making my hamstring hurt (basically didn’t help me at all) So I quit going and after months with the same problems, I went to a sports injury doctor (whatever they’re called) and he noticed that my right hamstring was extremely weak and he did an MRI and my mom didn’t share the results with me so it must have been insignificant. Months after that, I went to an acupuncturist after a friend with the same problem reccomended it it. The acupuncturist mentioned that I probably have priforimis syndrome, which was more of a logical response than what any of the previous practicers of medicine had given to me. The acupuncture results were decent, but for $80 a visit, I’d almost rather have a pissed off hamstring. I quit going because it didn’t fix the problem, it just put a bandaid over it. Now I retain from sitting, Take a dramatic amount of fish oil, do the catcow stretch every day, foam roll, and release faschia by standing on a rubber ball. My day to day life has significantly improved, but I still get aggravating moments sometimes and I still can’t be extemely physical as I once was. Mind you, this was 3 years ago and I’m now 20. I also thought to mention that the original injury occured after taking a supplement called “football” that contained Human Growth Hormone, and I’ve always blamed the injury on that.

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 15:27h, 06 July Reply

      Hi Kristian, I’m sorry for your struggles. Yes, it’s possible to have all 3 issues, although it doesn’t sound like you have all 3 (yet).

      If your hamstring is “blue”, you 100% have a hamstring injury. Now, hamstring injuries can occur to protect the low back, which it sounds like is happening with your case.

      If you had shocking symptoms, you have a nerve problem. But it’s likely coming from the low back (and not the piriformis or hamstring).

      YES, you can have constant aching in the hamstrings COMING from your low back. Google “low back disc referral patterns”. You’ll find pictures that highlight the “posterior thigh” or hamstring area.

      While the HGH probably didn’t help, it’s not likely to be the cause of your pains. There are plenty of people who take HGH who don’t have this pain. You either had a significant trauma to the low back (football or working out) or have genetically weak discs, given your age. It can also be a combo of both.

      I highly recommend you seek out doctors/therapists to fix your low back right now. This will haunt you 10-20 years down the road. If you were my son, I’d fly you to an Integrative Diagnosis doctor 2x/week for 2 months. Better to nip this in the bud now then deal with it for the rest of your life.

  • Jordan Gibb
    Posted at 10:41h, 19 August Reply

    Hi Dr Chris, a few weeks ago I did a strenuous glute workout and became very tight the next day where I naturally tried to stretch the backsides of my legs out sporadically throughout the day so as to be able to even walk properly. (I work sitting down all day so was very stiff when getting up.) I’ve been doing yoga for a while now so have had amazing flexibility, so naturally I thought this would pass and they’d get looser if I start slowly stretching them out. Stupidly I went to the gym again the next day and thought if I just did a light 10mins of the bike trainer to warm my sore muscles up I’d be able to stretch them out better. (Don’t ask me where this logic came from) and of course the next morning I woke up with the tightest legs I’ve ever had. I got my husband to very slowly liglft each leg up for me while I kept them straight and my left one felt a pang and I ripped it back down. The rest of the day I continued to try to stretch them out until i got such bad pain in my left one I couldn’t even hop on my right leg without grimacing. Had to use crutches for the next two days. Seems to have come right enough to do all things normal except that both legs have the tightest hamstrings. I don’t have pinching in or anything out of the ordinary light tightness I get in my back from my job and from that big stretch that morning I know it’s in my hammy. SO glad I came across this article because I certainly don’t want to make it worse and I want to heal them. Problem is I live in New Zealand so i have no idea of there is anyone that is an adhesive removal specialist here. Would a physio therapist hold this knowledge? Or would an acupuncturist be of any use?

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 17:00h, 19 August Reply

      Hi Jordan,

      I’m sorry about your issues.

      – Do you have brown urine? (if yes, you should go to the hospital immediately)

      If no, then …

      – What exercises did you do with your glute workout?
      – Do you normally have daily low back tightness or pain?

      This should get better with a few days of rest. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to find the best musculoskeletal provider around you can find. HOpefully, they have extensive knowledge of working with muscles.

      Let me know. : )

  • Steave
    Posted at 12:06h, 19 August Reply

    i have running daily 5 kilometer last 2 years and my hamstrings have been SO tight. give me some solution about it.

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 17:01h, 19 August Reply

      Ha, I need way more information Steve.

      All we know from what you’re doing is that you’re doing too much. You could have healthy muscles and be over-doing it. Or, you could have problems, be doing a normal amount of work, and over-doing it.

      What do your tests from above say?

  • Filip
    Posted at 17:20h, 06 October Reply

    Hi Dr. Chris, very informative article.
    I’ve been doing hamstring stretches for a few months, and apart from the initial improvement in range of motion (I can barely touch the ground with my fingers when bending forward, before I wasn’t even close), and ease of pain after doing the stretches, the pain always comes back.
    I have a constant pain in the left hamstring which is radiating towards my calf sometimes.

    Firstly I had trouble sitting, but now my hamstring is hurting even when sleeping or walking. The pain can be described as a pain after you walked/ran 10 miles and your legs are dying out of tiredness, and sometimes it’s a shocking, nerve pain. It really depends on IDK what! I am so confused by this! It only manifests in left leg.

    Like now when I’m typing this, I’m feeling pulsations in my hamstring and very mild tingling in feet (occasionaly). I noticed that my almost whole left leg is tingling and become numb when I sit on the toilet. It must be nerve issue, but how to fix it?
    Leg also feels much heavier than the right leg which is healthy.
    I did MRI on lower back, and everything is fine apart from the perineural cyst size of 8mm in S2 segment of spine which doctor said it’s not concern. Or is it?!

    My wife performed test 1 on me and I can do about 70 degrees, but when she bent my feet towards me I felt “nerve” pain in my feet and a bit in hamstring.
    I have plantar fasciitis on both feet, which are flat, and I’m using insoles which I wear all the time.

    Is this sciatic nerve related problem? Should I stop stretching my hamstrings or continue?
    Piriformis syndrome maybe? I am doing stretches for that, but no improvement really.

    I’m sorry I can’t come in person, you are too far away, and I know it’s rude to ask for a free help online, but I don’t know what else to do. Doctors haven’t helped much, they said my lower back is not the issue (MRI clear except the cyst), that I should move more and come back in a few months for new assessment. That’s not helpful at all.

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 01:10h, 07 October Reply

      It’s not rude Filip. I’m here to serve. Feel free to use me as much as you need. You have a disc problem in your low back my friend. Google “sclerotegenous referral low back”. Certain lumbar discs refer to the hamstrings. Your nerve symptoms support this diagnosis. I’d find the best myofascial therapist around you to do work on you. There is your best shot. If you can’t find one, know that in the near future, in the next few years, you’ll need to see someone like me to prevent this from getting worse as you get older. Because it will get worse. LMK. Try the “Pencil Test” we have on the low back range tests. Let me know if you have space under the pencil.

      • Filip
        Posted at 00:26h, 08 October Reply

        I just did the test, came back perfect. Only first 1 inch of the pencil is adjacent to the skin, the rest is “sticking” out. I had MRI of lower back a month ago, wouldn’t they see a disk problem?

        • Dr. Chris
          Posted at 16:43h, 08 October Reply

          Not always – they’re looking for severe issues. When you tip the pencil to the other end, all of it rounds as well? Or is there any larger flat spot?

          Your history trumps imaging. Although if they didn’t say anything on the report, that’s a better sign that there isn’t severe damage.

          If the low back really isn’t an issue, then it’s most likely that your sciatic nerve is glued to your hip external rotators (i.e. piriformis) or hamstring muscles themselves. This is a possibility that will move up our diagnostic list if your low back truly is fine.

          But, we still don’t have anything to explain the constant nature of your symptoms. That’s why this looks more like a disc than it does sciatic nerve entrapment at the butt or hamstrings.

  • Stephanie
    Posted at 20:28h, 27 October Reply

    I have a herniated disc (9mm) on L5/s1. Symptoms appeared in early August after some yard work. I got an epidural about a month later after being in so much pain for the month with radiating pain down my left leg and foot. The epidural helped and I started physical therapy. Things were much better after the shot, but my hamstrings and piriformis still felt super tight. I’m not sure if the attempted stretching of the hamstrings/piriformis made things worse or if the epidural is just wearing off, but I’ve had more of the radiating pain down my leg starting again more consistently. After watching your video, I’m thinking it’s really not a tight hamstring, but just the hamstring trying to protect the nerve. I don’t want to screw things up more by trying to stretch the hamstring/piriformis…not sure what to do now at this point. I tried looking up Integrative Diagnosis doctors in Los Angeles, but there are none at all in the area. I purchased an adjustable bed that goes into zero gravity and an inversion table. I haven’t used the inversion table much yet, but do the zero gravity position often. The acupuncturist says most people my age (48) have herniated discs, it’s more the tight muscles that you need to fix that are pushing on the nerve. I’m just feeling really confused about what is the proper way to fix things and don’t want to do anything wrong that could cause long term implications. I want to travel, etc. with my kids, but can’t stand for long periods of time without the sciatic nerve issue/muscle tightness down my leg. Sitting is generally fine, but going from standing to sitting, trying to straighten my leg in the bath tub, getting out of the car, etc. is tough. Thank you so much for your help.

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 20:00h, 28 October Reply

      Yeah, this isn’t a hamstring issue. There is an Integrative Diagnosis doctor in CA, but he’s not too close to LA. Ideally, I’d see him. If you can’t, I’d see a really good myofascial therapist or doctor. While it’s true that most people have herniations/bulges at your age, yours is obviously symptomatic. Search “Barefoot Rehab Pencil Test” and see how bad your range is. This will tell you how badly you would need this type of doctor. If there’s space under the pencil, you need one.

  • Susan Pelton
    Posted at 00:03h, 02 December Reply

    Since I was a child, I have never been able to touch my toes if my feet were pointed straight. If they are turned to the sides I can put my legs behind my head easily. As an adult and a PT looks at this and keeps wanting to “help me” stretch my hamstrings – which just causes so much pain. I want them to work with my body as God created it. I am hyperflexible except for that one area. I had a knee replacement done and I need help getting up off the floor – why can’t they use my strengths in my body. Any suggestions?

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 02:00h, 03 December Reply

      Hi Susan, I’d have them stop. If this hasn’t worked in a month, it’s NOT going to work now. That’s Einstein’s definition of insanity. I bet you have a hip joint morphology issue. You might be able to see a hip orthopedic specialist who can tell you how they are shaped. You just have to find therapists who know WHY your hips are shaped liked that and have them strengthen you AROUND that. Check out “anteverted vs. retroverted hip joints”.

  • Adam Justiniano
    Posted at 18:10h, 19 March Reply

    I had a high hamstring strain, rehabbed it for about 3 months. It got better, I was able to put an eccentric amount of stress on the muscle. A few weeks back, I was running (which is how I strained it in the first place) I pulled it again (grade 1).

    It has been about a month, I am able to load my hamstring but I still feel weak and have very light bruising…can barely see it. Should I wait for it to heal or continue light strengthening and stretching? I surf a lot so my main goal is to get back into the water.

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 19:55h, 28 May Reply

      Hi Adam, sorry for delay. It sounds like we don’t have a complete diagnosis. If it “got better”, why did you strain it again? I’d see a doctor who can diagnose you completely so it’s fixed once and for all.

  • Lee H
    Posted at 18:39h, 28 May Reply

    Hello, I have a 13 year old son who was recently Dx with mild / moderate central disc protrusion of L5-S1. He is 2 months out from the injury. He has regained about 50% of his forward range of motion, his hamstrings are EXTREMELY tight. He has tried continuing the stretching, he went to a neurosurgeon for review and he is applying time. No sharp pain. He does 99% of his normal activities. He used to be able to do the splits in both directions now he has plateaued with gaining any of that forward flexion back. Should he continue stretching so much? is there anything else we could look at doing to improve his outcome? Feeling frustrated that he isn’t really progressing anymore and the PT person isn’t really giving us any new info to go on. Thanks ~ Lee

  • Dr. Chris
    Posted at 19:57h, 28 May Reply

    If the hamstrings are “TIGHT”, It’s most likely because they’re “contracting” to protect the inflamed disc. Why else would they be tight? It’s more about unloading the disc enough to get his hamstrings to relax. I’d find an adhesion specialist to work on his disc and help it recover faster if it’s about time for him.

  • Lee H
    Posted at 18:56h, 29 May Reply

    Hi Dr. Chris. Thank you for the information and quick reply. I have two additional follow up questions. I found someone that specializes in ‘manual’ therapy…would you consider that similar / same to an adhesion specialist? Also, I have been looking at another treatment facility that utilizes spinal decompression with what looks like a Triton DTS table…if you had to choose between the two therapies would you say one is better than the other…should they both be done? Thanks again for the help and information, I appreciate you taking time out of your day to write back.

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 08:05h, 01 June Reply

      I would NOT consider this the same as an adhesion specialist. However, it makes sense for people to try manual therapy and see how it goes. If you get NO PERMANENT relief in 1-5 treatments, stop going. I wouldn’t bother with spinal decompression. It gets really good results very seldom. Not worth it. it’s not great at selecting which patients it would work for and in theory, it’s not addressing any real pathology. When you get off that machine, the pressure comes right back on the discs.

      Definitely choose manual therapy. : )

  • Josh R
    Posted at 05:31h, 20 June Reply

    Hello Dr. Chris. I recently had x-rays that show i have an anterior tilt in my hips. I can literally put a finger on each side of my hips parallel to one another, and you can see one side is higher than the other. I am assuming this is what is causing problems with literally everything from the hips down (tight hams, weak knees, tight calves and even affects my ankles and feet). I also seem to have weak mid-section muscles and nearly non-existent obliques and on top of that the muscles in my ribs are affected along with (mildly) my chest. My X-rays also show problems on my left side around my collarbone/shoulder (possible muscle degeneration or pre-degenerating) which could be the cause of the problems i am experiences around the upper body area. But wait it gets better! The X-rays also show that the muscles that make up the front of my neck are too “straight “. One of the most notable problems i have i forgot to mention is my upper back including the upper middle, rhomboids Shoulders and yes up to my neck. My back always feels like i do “back day” at the gym 7 days a week for 4 hours, although i haven’t worked out in years besides light at home exercise routines and some stretching. My back seems way oversized (especially my giant Rhombs) compared to the rest of my body. With these 3 problems pointed out by my X-ray in combination with each other I experience some sort of “problem” weather it be tightness, shortness or just plain soreness of my muscles virtually in every part of my body. Some days its not so bad, and others im running around the house looking for ice packs and topicals and begging for someone to give me a damn back rub! Anyways, Back to the hips. I found scarring all along my hip/thigh area both inner near my groin and outter near my glutes. Scarring is far worse on the right side it seems. Is this because ive lost muscle in these areas? do i need to grow it back somehow? Im assuming the goal is to literally “straighten out my hips” until the tilt is gone and things seem even and it doesnt feel like one leg is longer than the other anymore. Is there a way to know which abductors i should be stretching? do i even want to stretch my abductors for this problem? is it possible from what i explained that the problem i have on one side of my body can be the exact opposite on the other side ( for example my inner abductors are affected on my left side with my outer abductors affected on my right) thus resulting in a complicated exercise and stretching routine i would have to follow? Would exercises having to do with “protective tension” solutions be my saving grace or does my description suggest i have a more advanced diagnosis in which stretching might not help? Also is there any advice you can give my about my neck and back pain? I forgot to mention that my lower back never flares up just my upper back. My glutes are weak almost non existent do i need to strengthen them or should i stay away from squats? should i even be doing any muscle building exercises or simply finding the right stretches for my particular case and make a routine out of them? I know these issues are from poor lifestyle choices mostly if not completely, because i havent had any notable injuries growing up. never even broke a bone before. If i had to guess id say i sit at the computer way to long. Also, went through a depression phase where i slept for like 14 hours a day and yes, you guessed it sat at the computer some more with not alot of moving around in between to keep my muscles mobile so the blame is entirely on me i suppose. Now that ive smartened up im just trying to cope with the shitstorm i brought upon myself and am a little lost on where to start. Surgery or expensive doctors or therapist are out of the question for at least for a while so im on my own to fix this. Help me Doc!

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 11:22h, 24 June Reply

      Hi Josh, that’s good stuff! Good awareness you have. The first thing to be clear about is any pain or tightness you’re feeling is evidence that you’re putting too much stress on a damaged body part. So, you need to take stress off that damaged body part. If you’re sitting too much and that causes your symptoms, then you need to either NOT sit or sit better respecting the Sit-Slide-Lean Rule. Because you have a lot of findings and a lot of symptoms, you definitely would fall into the advanced category stage. I might try some light physical therapy type strengthening to see if your symptoms get better after 30 days. I wouldn’t go crazy because you could cause more harm than good.

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