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Hamstring vs Sciatic Nerve Tension

Hey, it’s Jennifer. Today I want to talk about tight hamstrings that never seem to loosen up, and possible nerve tension. So if you’re someone who stretches a ton and your hamstrings never seem to loosen up, it might actually be from your sciatic nerve being tight.

Imagine your sciatic nerve as a string going down the back of your leg. It exits your spine in your low back and cuts across your butt, and then goes down the back of your leg. And when you get into an “L” position, like you would to stretch your hamstrings, you’re pulling that string or that nerve tight.

Nerves don’t like to be held in that tightened or taut position for a long time. So if you’re doing something like a hamstring stretch and just holding it, you might actually be irritating that nerve.

One way to do a quick check for that is to do your hamstring stretch. You can sit on the ground or prop your foot up and bend forward until you feel a pretty good stretch. Then figure out where you feel that stretch and how intense it is. You need to find a place where you feel it stretching in the back of your thigh; If you feel it behind your knee, it’s going to be harder to differentiate.

So get a stretch in the back of your thigh. Keep your toe pointed up when you’re doing that. And then once you’ve got it, point your toe down. If that changes the intensity of what you feel in the back of your thigh, or that makes it feel better and you don’t feel a stretch there, that’s actually your nerve tension and not your hamstring muscle.Your ankle is not connected to your hamstring; your hamstring stop behind your knee. So if just moving your ankle impacts how your hamstring stretch feels, then it’s actually nerve tension.

If it changes how behind your knee feels, that might just be your calf muscle. Your calf hooks in back there and you are changing your ankle position which affects the calf stretch. So you gotta get it so that it’s changing the muscles, behind the belly of your hamstrings.

So what do you do if it is nerve tension?  Instead of stretching your hamstrings and just holding the position for a long time, keep it moving. For example, doing some good mornings or hamstring sweepers is good. If you’d like to do that runner’s stretch or like propping your foot up on something, instead of just holding it, keep it moving. Do some little pulses in and out. You’ll still get a good stretch in the hamstring, but then your nerve will be happy, too.

Let us know what you think and/or if you found any nerve tension when you tried the little test. Good luck & thanks!

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