Tight hamstrings and a foot massage? The correlation doesn’t seem to be obvious immediately, but they are surprisingly connected.
Tight hamstrings muscles is a common problem among athletes and non-athletes. We sit too much. We live stressful lives, hunching over at the desk or in the traffic. We have a bad posture: rounded back, head forward, slouchy shoulders, tilted hips. The entire kinetic chain is connected and if some elements are too short or too weak, it will throw off the entire kinetic chain.
Shortened and tight hamstrings may cause lower back pain, that is common knowledge. But did you know that tight hamstrings can also cause problems in your feet, such as plantar fasciatis? A lot of athletes, tennis players, runners and others suffer from it. How is that possible?
What is even more impressive is that if you have ever tried to stretch your hamstrings, day in day out… (well, I wonder who really stretches them so diligently and so regularly… but let’s assume…) And there is not too much progression and results? Maybe they feel a little bit better and looser for short time, but then as soon as you start doing something, they tighten up again.
You do also the myofascial release on the foam ball or Rumble roller. It helps a lot too, but it is hard to roll the tight hamstrings because it is not too easy to apply sufficient pressure to go deep enough. And even when you do and help yourself, the hamstrings tighten up soon again.
Soon, you will learn a secret that may help your stubborn hamstrings forever.
Massage your feet!!!
You wonder what feet have to do with your tight hamstrings, perhaps?
Every muscle in your body is connected to other tissues and these connections are called “tissue trains” (according to Tim Myer and his amazing Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists ). Your hamstrings are directly connected to the soles of your feet, and also to many other body parts. From the toes to just above the eyes, it is one long fascia. All is connected. You can see this “superficial back line” on this 2-minute amazing YouTube video. Really, watch it, it is super cool. It will make you think about your body differently.
Your hamstrings are part of that strip and when you release any part of the strip, you release the whole. Maybe it happened to you before that you stretched your feet and your upper back got “cracked”—that lovely little release of tension.
So if you are frustrated with your tight hamstrings and nothing seems to help, try it from a different angle: from the bottom of your feet. When you massage the soles of your feet, you loosen the starting point of the back connective tissue train that runs all the way up your back body to the crown of your head. You may get the final release that you were searching for.
Besides, your feet are all cramped up from walking and running around all day in restrictive shoes, walking or playing tennis on hard surfaces, and just plainly being rough to them. This foot massage will feel good not just for your hamstrings, but for the feet themselves.
Massage and Roll Your Feet
- Grab a tennis ball and stand close to a wall or something that you can hold on for balance.
- Place one foot on the ball and put as much pressure as you can handle. It can be uncomfortable in the beginning.
- Start rolling around on that ball, in a few inch area. When you reach a painful spot (trigger point), stop on it, breathe deeply a few times until the pain dissolves. Then find another spot.
- Apply more pressure as your tissue gets looser and healthier (aka fewer trigger points).
- Roll under your toes, under your front foot, then work yourself on the entire sole toward the heel.
- Keep rolling for at least 2 minutes, preferably more. You will enjoy the feeling.
- When you can handle a tennis ball easily, you can graduate toward a golf ball. What a new experience! It is smaller and firmer, so it reaches areas between in intrinsic muscles that a tennis ball cannot reach.
Do this rolling as often as you can, but especially after a long walk, standing for prolonged periods of time, an intense tennis practice or other athletic activity. You can do this almost anywhere. You can even sneak in a tennis ball under your desk at work or in school.
Read also these lovely articles about taking care of your feet:
- Fit and Healthy Feet for Better Tennis and Less Injuries
- Short Foot Exercises to Prevent Injuries
- Healthy Feet will Improve your Tennis Fitness
After each foot rolling session, try to bend over with your legs straight and see how your hamstrings are doing. Are they getting elongated as time goes and you massage your feet regularly? You may find that you don’t need to put as much attention and love to your hamstrings, if you do your feet. Even maybe your tight calves will relax! Remember, they also sit on the same connective tissue train.
Almost everybody has tight hamstrings, so be a good friend, spread the love, post this article on the social media and forward it to your friends and tennis partners so they can help themselves :-)