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Tight Hamstrings or Sciatic Tension?

Woman Stretching

Commit to stretching regularly

Often clients comment to me that they have tight hamstrings and that it has been this way for the most part of their lives. “I have never been able to touch my toes” they often say, “even though I try to stretch my hamstrings.”

The simple fact of physiology is that muscles are reliable structures if they are stretched regularly; stretch them every day for a period of time and they will stretch. This doesn’t mean that what the client say is not true however, because there could be something else going on here.

The main nerves of the body, including the sciatic nerve, should move physically and be capable of a significant amount of stretching. During a lesson in my anatomy degree we had a spinal cord attached to the end of the table and we had to stretch it to reach the other end. This increased its length by 50% – really unbelievable.

Most people who say that they have always had tight hamstrings are those who report sciatic nerve symptoms. When I try to stretch their sciatic nerves (very similar to a hamstring stretch) they have very little motion of the sciatic nerve and report discomfort.

Whilst there are slight differences that allow chiropractors to determine if the tightness is in the sciatic nerve, a simple way to determine this at home is to commit to stretching regularly. If, after two weeks of stretching for 3 minutes everyday, you see no difference then let me know and I will show you how to modify it for the sciatic nerve.

Having a flexible and long sciatic nerve is important to long term lower back health. Flexibility helps when you are faced with challenges as it enables your lower back and nerves to become much more capable of adapting to a variety of injuries. Joints are also damaged over time by a lack of movement and keeping them flexible is impossible if the nerves are tight.

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