Hamstring Shortening

Updated: Oct 11

It is very common in runners to suffer from hamstring shortening. The muscles of the posterior thigh (semimembranosus, semitendinosus, and biceps femoris) have a combined, extensor action on the hip and flexor action on the knee, playing a crucial role in the stability of the pelvis. When these muscles shorten, this stability loses its effectiveness, modifying the body's posture.

What does this syndrome consist of? Hamstring shortening syndrome is a lesion characterized by a reduction in the elasticity of the posterior thigh muscles, showing less flexibility and, therefore, a limitation of the range of motion.

What are the factors that cause it? Loss of the level of physical condition, decreased joint width, age, gender (women are more flexible), the type of sport practiced, muscle disorders, body dysmetries and sedentary lifestyle (spending a lot of time sitting).

What are its consequences? The tension exerted by the hamstring muscles is directly related to the posture of your body, their retraction can affect the knees and hips, making you more prone to falls when you lean forward, muscle stiffness, tendinitis in the anterior aspect of the knee due to the modification of the posture during walking, contractures, punctures, fibrillar tears, sprains, low back and middle back pain and tendinosis.

How to detect it? There are several tests that can tell you if you have hamstring shortening: Test 1: In a standing position, bend your back to try to touch the tips of your toes with your hands. If you are 5 cm short to arrive, you suffer from the syndrome in a moderate way, on the contrary, if you are missing between 6 and 16 cm, the shortening is quite high. Test 2: Sit on the floor with your back straight, lean forward and try to touch the tips of your toes with your hands. If your hamstrings are perfectly, you could touch them without problems, if you are missing more than 5 cm you should start thinking about starting a training plan to improve the flexibility of your posterior leg muscles. Test 3: lie on the floor and raise one leg without flexing your knees, try to raise it until you get an angle of approximately 70º, if you do not manage to exceed 60º you should stretch your hamstrings more.

If in two of the three tests you have not managed to touch your feet or exceed that 60º angle in the last case, you should start thinking about starting a plan to improve the flexibility of your hamstrings or going to a specialist.

How to treat this syndrome? First of all, you should have a decontracting massage that releases all the muscles of the back of the thigh, including the lower back and buttocks and continue with the best possible prevention: a strengthening work with stretching of the hamstring.

Kyros Therapy - Sports & Recovery



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