Your Misunderstood Hamstrings | Personal Training Perth

Four muscle bellies comprise your hamstrings group. They originate at your pelvis and insert at your lower leg. Whilst known for their knee-bending capabilities, the hamstrings also take part in the hip extension process. They do this by moving your leg behind your body. When your hamstrings tighten and shorten, they nag you like your neighbor’s chronically whining dog. Stretching might provide a temporary band-aid, but fixing the problem demands a sophisticated, whole-body approach.  Your personal trainer can help.


Most of us suffer from chronic sit-a-tosis.  We begin our day when we sit down for breakfast, read the newspaper and drink our morning coffee. Then, we take a seat in our cars, or on buses or trains. Next on the agenda is eight hours of sitting at our desks, followed by a return home for dinner, then watching the TV or posting on our favorite social networks. Meanwhile, our hamstrings remain flexed as the cry out for mercy. Even more insidious is the tightening of our hip flexors, which triggers a syndrome called reciprocal inhibition.

What the Heck Is Reciprocal Inhibition and Why Do I Care?

During every move you make, a main muscle, called the prime mover or agonist, performs the action, whilst an antagonist performs the opposing movement.  A group of synergistic muscles assist the prime mover. If your butt muscles are the prime movers, your hip flexors are the antagonists, and your hamstrings act as synergists to your glutes. If your hip flexors decide to dominate the movement, your butt usually decides that it’s time to go on vacation. Your hip flexors get stronger and your butt muscles get lazy. This is called reciprocal inhibition.

When Synergists Dominate

If, because of reciprocal inhibition, your glutes decide to shirk their responsibilities, your hamstrings must take on the prime mover role. This will end badly. Your hamstrings function well when playing the right hand man or best friend for life, but they are definitely not prime mover material. In the process of attempting to do a job for which they lack adequate strength, they tighten, shorten, and, in some cases, tear. Although logic might dictate the stretching your hamstrings might fix the situation, synergistic dominance is anything but logical. Tight hamstrings are only the symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. Your personal trainer has some better ideas.

Your Personal Trainer’s Solution

Personal trainers with Physiotherapy and Exercise Physiology Degrees are trained to look at the big picture, and get to the root of the problem. In this case, the problem is rooted with overly tight hip flexors, which are paired with but muscles suffering from sit-a-tosis. Your trainer might prescribe foam roller massage for your hip flexors, combined with strength training for your butt.

The Posture Connection

If you tend to walk around with an anterior pelvic tilt, or a chronically arched lower back, your weight shifts towards your heals and hyperextends your hamstrings. This would imply that your hamstrings are overstretched, right? Wrong! If your back continues to arch, it will develop a number of painful conditions. Your hamstrings will tighten in an attempt to protect your back from increased anterior pelvic tilt.

So as you can see, your hamstrings act in mysterious ways. Don’t leave your workouts to chance. Ask our highly qualified personal trainers for help. Please do not hesitate to call Happy Physio for expert Physiotherapy on (08) 9272 7359 today.