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Tight Hamtrings: Should I NOT DL?

My hamstrings are super tight but at the same time pretty weak.  When i do deads i always feel better posturely and during locomotion.  However, a day later i am so sore it hurts to touch my hams and it seems to last about 4-5 days before the soreness goes away..  

My friend is a yoga teacher and has said i am unbeleivably tight in that area and should not be lifting but just stretching it out. And BTW this is with lightish weights done single leg (working towards traditional deads but want to take care of any imbalances first). Can i still lift AND stretch? Is one day a week (since iu stay so sore) of sub-max effort enough for strength/muscle gains? Thanks for any input.

deadlifting will probably make you stronger at the deadlift than not deadlifting. at the same time, work on that flexibility!

I have had a similar problem with having really tight hamms (but luckily not so weak). A while back I ended up hurting myself while deadlifting, which still plagues me to this day.

The farther my flexibility has progressed, the better I feel after a good leg session.

Keep in mind I’m not suggesting you learn to be a contortionist, just get to a point where you’re not feeling tight all the time.

If your legs are too sore after a workout to stretch them, you might want to systematically reduce volume each week until you get to a point where you can focus on the flexibility enhancement.

If flexibility is your main concern, and you can stand to not work the legs for a while, maybe you should reduce volume down to nothing for a week or so and slowly build it back up while keepin on keepin on with the stretching.

You should probably test your 1RM in leg extensions (this being the ONLY time anyone would EVER touch a leg extension machine) and then test your 1RM in leg curls.

If your 1RM for leg curls isn’t at least 80% of your leg extensions, then you have a problem.

I used to have the same problems as you describe and I didn’t stop tearing/pulling hamstrings until I fixed this imbalance in myself.

Beef

I would recommend stretching them consistantly, using both dynamic and static stretchs, doing some soft tissue work (SMR)-> foam rolling and performing SLDL’s and SLGM’s.

SMR - self myofacial release
SLDL - stiff leg good mornings
SLDL - stiff leg deadlifts

Good advice. I never thought of testing the strengh of my quads vs. hams that way. Maybe my hams arent week, just tight? Assuming my leg curl is less than my ext. what should i then look at doing?

I am doing straighht leg deads currently but performing them one leg at a time (helps me work around a tight lower back and noticable improves my knee/ankle stability after each session). Will that suffice? edit…sorry repost

[quote]BoxBabaX wrote:
I would recommend stretching them consistantly, using both dynamic and static stretchs, doing some soft tissue work (SMR)-> foam rolling and performing SLDL’s and SLGM’s.

SMR - self myofacial release
SLDL - stiff leg good mornings
SLDL - stiff leg deadlifts[/quote]

I currently do single leg SLDL’s (helps me get around lower lumbar tightness and noticeably improves my knee/ankle stability after each session). Will that suffice?

General Rule of Thumb: A tight muscle is a weak muscle.

I suspect you probably have two things going on. Your hamstrings are super weak and your glutes are shut down. So when you deadlift, your glutes are not contributing and your hamstrings have to pick up the slack. Since your hamstrings are weak, it kicks the crap out of them and you’re super sore afterwards.

Lots of mobility work, glute activation work, static stretching, and foam/tennis ball rolling will probably clear it right up. Lots of articles on this site to get you started… I definitely recommend “Feel Better for 10 Bucks” and “Get Your Ass In Gear.”

[quote]Leafblighter wrote:
General Rule of Thumb: A tight muscle is a weak muscle.

I suspect you probably have two things going on. Your hamstrings are super weak and your glutes are shut down. So when you deadlift, your glutes are not contributing and your hamstrings have to pick up the slack. Since your hamstrings are weak, it kicks the crap out of them and you’re super sore afterwards.

Lots of mobility work, glute activation work, static stretching, and foam/tennis ball rolling will probably clear it right up. Lots of articles on this site to get you started… I definitely recommend “Feel Better for 10 Bucks” and “Get Your Ass In Gear.” [/quote]
Thanks. That was kind of what i feel is going on. I make sure to squeeze my butt really hard when do deads. My butt definetely feels more solid the days after DL work but nowhere near the soreness of my hams. I have a bunch of articles for Robertsons’ website dealing with those issues but is there any glute act. work you could recomend that i may not know of? Also, i have heard that when doing Dl variations, really heavy weights are kind of needed in order to have the glutes (the stronger muscle compared to the hams)come into play. If this is true, should i try a dramatically heavier weight then i have been using to bring them into play?

[quote]AlbertaBeef wrote:
You should probably test your 1RM in leg extensions (this being the ONLY time anyone would EVER touch a leg extension machine) and then test your 1RM in leg curls.

If your 1RM for leg curls isn’t at least 80% of your leg extensions, then you have a problem.

I used to have the same problems as you describe and I didn’t stop tearing/pulling hamstrings until I fixed this imbalance in myself.

Beef[/quote]

Just a couple of comments here…first who does a 1RM isolation exercise? If you are going to do this, warm up a ton. Then stretch, then warm up some more. If you don’t tear your quad or end up with patella tendinitis, good luck.

The general consensus on quad to hamstring ratio is 60-80%. Expecting your hams to be atleast 80% of your quads is at the very high end of that range.

Also, not to pick a fight, but I think leg extension do have their place, especially for asthetic purposes, some people need more VMO development than others.

[quote]cskolnick wrote:
My hamstrings are super tight but at the same time pretty weak. When i do deads i always feel better posturely and during locomotion. However, a day later i am so sore it hurts to touch my hams and it seems to last about 4-5 days before the soreness goes away…

My friend is a yoga teacher and has said i am unbeleivably tight in that area and should not be lifting but just stretching it out. And BTW this is with lightish weights done single leg (working towards traditional deads but want to take care of any imbalances first). Can i still lift AND stretch? Is one day a week (since iu stay so sore) of sub-max effort enough for strength/muscle gains? Thanks for any input.[/quote]

“The only thing worse than a strong tight muscle is a weak tight muscle”

Are you doing Deadlifts of Stiff leg DL’s? I’m assuming SLDL’s because you mentioned single leg. These are very different execises.

If you are doing single leg stiff leg, and you are trying to improve flexibility, make sure you aren’t rotating (opening) your hips too much during the stretch phase.

If you are doing single leg DL’s I want a video.

Don’t listen to a yoga instructor (friend or not) if you are looking for bodybuilding advice. Let’s see your volume first, if it is not excessive, continue to work on stregthening, and follow each session with a good stretch.

If your hamstrings are overly tight, it will throw everything posteriorly out of alignment.

[quote]Leafblighter wrote:
General Rule of Thumb: A tight muscle is a weak muscle.

I suspect you probably have two things going on. Your hamstrings are super weak and your glutes are shut down. So when you deadlift, your glutes are not contributing and your hamstrings have to pick up the slack. Since your hamstrings are weak, it kicks the crap out of them and you’re super sore afterwards.

Lots of mobility work, glute activation work, static stretching, and foam/tennis ball rolling will probably clear it right up. Lots of articles on this site to get you started… I definitely recommend “Feel Better for 10 Bucks” and “Get Your Ass In Gear.” [/quote]

Not sure I completely agree either of these statements.

A tight muscle is usually a weak muscle? I think it’s generally the other way around. And when we say “weak” we are referring specifically to the proportions in the individual I assume. Anyway, the “caveman” posture we often see on people who do way to much benching and not enough rowing is generally due to shortened (tight) internal rotators, pec minor, front delt, etc in the front of the body. This means that the muscles on the back are too weak to offer enough pull back in the opposite direction of the “caveman” posture.

The second issue I see is that you say his hamstrings are probably weak and his glutes are shut down. If that is the case, then what are the muscles that are working order to complete the lift (assuming technique is ideal). It’s not that I disagree with the glutes necessarily being shut down, but his soreness is likely due to his hamstrings taking the brunt of the work.

So while his hamstrings might be weak in terms of the absolute, (if he’s a beginner and only deadlifts 200 or whatever) we have to look at the body in terms of the strength of one muscle group in relation to another.

So your thoughts regarding whether or not his glutes are firing properly may be correct, but this would likely cause his hamstrings to be strongER than his glues, thus taking the brunt of the work

I don’t mean to split hairs on the second point, but those are just my thoughts.

-MAtt

[quote]cskolnick wrote:
Thanks. That was kind of what i feel is going on. I make sure to squeeze my butt really hard when do deads. My butt definetely feels more solid the days after DL work but nowhere near the soreness of my hams. I have a bunch of articles for Robertsons’ website dealing with those issues but is there any glute act. work you could recomend that i may not know of? Also, i have heard that when doing Dl variations, really heavy weights are kind of needed in order to have the glutes (the stronger muscle compared to the hams)come into play. If this is true, should i try a dramatically heavier weight then i have been using to bring them into play?[/quote]

If the heavy weight thing is true, I’ve certainly never noticed it. For me, it’s just a mental thing; I established the mind/muscle connection with my glutes and focus on using them to move the weight. If anything, this is easier for me when using lighter weights.

In addition to activation work, I just made a conscious effort to squeeze my butt cheeks hard when doing standing exercises like curls or overhead pressing.

Good luck.

I have tight hamstrings. I’m doing stretches, yoga, glute activation, and all that stuff, and it’s slowly helping. In the meantime, when I lift and it feels like my hamstring is going to pop, I just rub some heat on it. You know, icy-hot or whatever it’s called. It loosens everything up, and I can lift without pain or risk of a pull.

[quote]Matgic wrote:
Not sure I completely agree either of these statements.

A tight muscle is usually a weak muscle? I think it’s generally the other way around. And when we say “weak” we are referring specifically to the proportions in the individual I assume. Anyway, the “caveman” posture we often see on people who do way to much benching and not enough rowing is generally due to shortened (tight) internal rotators, pec minor, front delt, etc in the front of the body. This means that the muscles on the back are too weak to offer enough pull back in the opposite direction of the “caveman” posture.[/quote]

I actually thought about this shortly after my post that I might have it backwards, and I think you’re right.

The reason I’m thinking his hamstrings may be weak (proportionately) is the fact that he says they are so sore he can’t even touch them after every workout. If they were super strong, I’d think other weak points in the chain would shut down the movement before he could toast the hamstrings like that. So my guess (which is most certainly a guess since I’m not trained in this stuff) is that the hamstrings are weak, thus tight, and as a result overstretched during the movement and not used to firing in such a stretched out position.

Normally I don’t like to speculate about this stuff with other people’s bodies, but since my final recommendations are good practice for anyone, I won’t feel so bad if my speculations as to the cause are incorrect. :wink:

[quote]Alex630 wrote:
In the meantime, when I lift and it feels like my hamstring is going to pop, I just rub some heat on it. You know, icy-hot or whatever it’s called. It loosens everything up, and I can lift without pain or risk of a pull. [/quote]

Most (if not all) of the analgesic rubs do not provide any deep heating effects at all. At best they irritate the nerve endings in the area and create the sensation of heat or cool from their active ingredients (capsaicin/menthol/etc.) Not that there is anything wrong with them, just don’t rely on any deep heating benefits.

[quote]Matgic wrote:
Not sure I completely agree either of these statements.

A tight muscle is usually a weak muscle? I think it’s generally the other way around.

Leafblighter wrote:

I actually thought about this shortly after my post that I might have it backwards, and I think you’re right.

[/quote]

Actually I think it can be either way, weak and tight or strong and tight, depending on the level of training.

Untrained individuals often have both tight and weak muscles due to disuse and a lack of stretching.

Beginners tend to strengthen muscles without stretching them and/or only work partial ranges of motion (for way too many reasons to list) consequently developing strong (relatively speaking) yet tight muscles.

Just my 2 cents worth.

[quote]Modi wrote:
Alex630 wrote:
In the meantime, when I lift and it feels like my hamstring is going to pop, I just rub some heat on it. You know, icy-hot or whatever it’s called. It loosens everything up, and I can lift without pain or risk of a pull.

Most (if not all) of the analgesic rubs do not provide any deep heating effects at all. At best they irritate the nerve endings in the area and create the sensation of heat or cool from their active ingredients (capsaicin/menthol/etc.) Not that there is anything wrong with them, just don’t rely on any deep heating benefits.[/quote]

What do you mean by “deep heating benefits”? I definately get the hot feeling for a few minutes, but after that, it seems to loosen my muscles up. There must be something to it. It’s not like it just numbs me to the pain and damage I’m inflicting on my hamstrings. Were that the case, I would have torn them months ago.

[quote]cskolnick wrote:
My hamstrings are super tight but at the same time pretty weak. When i do deads i always feel better posturely and during locomotion. However, a day later i am so sore it hurts to touch my hams and it seems to last about 4-5 days before the soreness goes away…

[/quote]

Stretch your hip flexors. You tight hamies are most-likely due to low-level spasming caused by an anterior rotation of the pelvis. Your posture probably feels better after doing deads because your pelvis is rotated back closer to neutral. Glute activation work will also help.

[quote]AlbertaBeef wrote:
You should probably test your 1RM in leg extensions (this being the ONLY time anyone would EVER touch a leg extension machine) and then test your 1RM in leg curls.

If your 1RM for leg curls isn’t at least 80% of your leg extensions, then you have a problem.

I used to have the same problems as you describe and I didn’t stop tearing/pulling hamstrings until I fixed this imbalance in myself.

Beef[/quote]

I don’t agree with going about this to fix a problem regarding tight hamstrings and/or vulnerabiltiy to injury. Alot of the time your hamstrings are having problems is usually due to the fact that you have a synergist along the line that isn’t working properly and your hamstrings have to make up for the slack.

When your hamstrings are constantly getting injured, you need to look around to see what else may be affecting this, not the actual hamstring itself. Tight/weak hip flexors, weak abdominal muscles, glutes not firing properly, overstriding (in an athletic standpoint), or too much knee flexion work to name a few could all lead to this to an outcome of injury. Like others have said, a tight muscle could also be a weak muscle and should be addressed to the overall problem of what’s causing this.

How are your warm ups? Do you include much dynamic work? That should be a staple in your case with tightness, as you want to look to progressivley increase the range of motion dynamically, not in a static range of motion (save that for cooldown- PNF methods work great).

I found that working hip extension with a stretch works great for hamstring flexibility/strength (RDL’s, good mornings… You get the idea). Yes ham curls have a place, but a leg extenion to ham curl test isn’t the best indicator that you’re in good balance and will be injury free. Hope that helped.