Hamstring Pain & Tendinopathy When Sitting
Many people suffer from tight, tender hamstrings. For some people, this is just a temporary condition that goes away when they move around enough and stretch out. But for others, it’s a chronic problem that doesn’t go away no matter what they do to try to relieve it.
Specifically, a hamstring injury occurs when you pull, strain, or cut one of the hamstring muscles that are on the back of your thigh. You may be more likely to get this type of injury if you run a lot or where there are sudden stops and starts involved with sprinting.
As a general rule, sitting for prolonged periods weakens the gluteal and quadriceps muscles, causing the hamstring muscles to be overloaded, which ultimately leads to hamstring pain. By maintaining good posture and taking frequent breaks, you can protect your hamstrings.
If you’re one of those who suffer from tight hamstring muscles due to sitting at work all day long or otherwise, then this article will give you the benefit of my experience treating hamstring injuries. For my 30 years of practicing chiropractic, trained ergonomist, I published a book on posture, spoke on this subject on national tv, engineered several solutions to improve comfort while sitting, ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund ergonomic seat cushions, etc., I’m confident that I can impart some practice and useful advice on why your hamstrings hurt while sitting and what you can do to remedy this problem right now!
How Can You Tell If You Have Injured Your Hamstrings?
You are likely to experience sudden, sharp pain in your thigh after a hamstring injury. There might also be a sensation of popping or tearing. Swelling and tenderness typically develop after a couple of hours. In addition to bruising, discolouration, and weakness, your injured leg is likely to show signs of oedema.
Three Categories of Hamstring Injuries:
- Grade I: minor muscle strain
- Grade II: small tear in the muscle
- Grade III: total muscle tear
The Hamstring Muscles
These are the three muscles located behind the thigh. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that extends from the lower back down to the legs. In the case of hamstring syndrome, this nerve is compressed. Pinching the nerve can result from the band of tissue holding together the hamstring muscles or friction between the hamstring muscles and the pelvis.
Hip and buttock pain, along with numbness lower down the leg, can occur with this condition. Sitting down and stretching the hamstrings can hurt. In some cases, lying on your back may reduce your pain.
How Sitting Causes Hamstring Tendinopathy
Your hamstrings are what give your legs their power. Walking, jumping, and climbing are all made possible by the three muscles in the back of the thigh. Assisting the gluteal muscles, they are responsible for propelling your body forward as you get up from a chair, cross a room, or ascend stairs. This same muscle group works with our hips to come to stop running quickly and lower ourselves down.
The hamstrings end up being overburdened as a result of weak gluteal muscles. Having weak glutes, which is fairly common among people who sit for particularly long periods of time, leaves the hamstrings constantly overloaded and overworked.
When muscles are tired and tight from overcompensating, injuries may occur. As a result of this burden, these muscles are extremely vulnerable to an unexpected burst of energy (i.e. sprinting).
A muscle strain is when you stretch or tear the muscles in your body. You can get a mild strain that only causes some fibres to rip, and it sounds like something popping out of place. Severe strains are pretty bad though– they go all the way through your muscle tissue, and pop loudly if they happen at just the right time!
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Treatment: How to Avoid Pain While Sitting
Get Your Chair Right
If you are into super easy and inexpensive alternatives to office chairs, I wrote a fantastic article on how and why you should consider these options for back pain and I encourage you to read it!
In addition to choosing a comfortable chair, you should stretch regularly and adjust your posture. When it comes to comfortably avoiding hamstring pain, it’s important to get the height of the chair just right, to make sure the armrests are positioned at the appropriate distance from your desk, and to make sure the seat pan is shaped and angled appropriately.
Having your feet rest comfortably on the floor should be possible if the seat height is high enough. It’s important to be able to adjust your seat’s height to ensure that you are comfortable.
Ideally, seats should be big enough for you to sit comfortably on them. As a general rule, you should sit with your back against the chair back, and the distance between your knees and the edge of your seat should be three fingers.
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When sitting, it may be more comfortable to have the hips elevated above the knees. This can potentially help distribute weight more evenly and may alleviate pressure on the spine. If a chair cannot be adjusted to achieve this position, a wedge cushion may be used as an alternative.
In addition to being essential, lumbar support should be comfortable.
Ergonomic Seat Cushion
If your office chair does not have these (above) capabilities, get a high-end seat cushion to balance your core and reduce hamstring muscle strain.
Get Your Seat Cushion Right
I’ve written a complete hands-on review about memory foam and here are some of the shocking issues that I ran into in this post!
You should choose a posture wedge that contains the following features:
- The kind of foam. Natural latex is the ultimate choice for comfort, resilience, and alignment
- Two layers of latex foam are required. Cushions for seats usually have two layers of material that relieve pressure while also providing support
- Shape. During the sitting process, wedge cushions offer ergonomic contours that support proper posture.
- The incline. The slope is 8-13 degrees
- Base. Foundation made of high-density foam (plus 96 kg/m3)
- Foam on top. In the top layer, there is the comfort layer (between 56 and 68 kg/m3).
- Avoid using memory foams. Considering their poor suitability for back pain, I wouldn’t recommend them. As opposed to latex, which comes from tree sap, memory foam has no springiness (resilience); it bottoms out; it traps heat, and is made from toxic materials.
Ergonomic Seat Cushion Benefits
I have been a chiropractor for almost 30 years, and during that time, I have seen countless patients suffering from hamstring pain. I have tried many different seat cushions, but I never found one that was perfect for my patients. I wanted something that would provide support and comfort but also be able to help with spinal alignment. After doing some research, I decided to design my own seat cushion and test it out on my patients suffering from back pain.
After trying different materials and designs, I created a seat cushion that received positive feedback from my patients. The cushion is made of a material that aims to provide support and comfort and improve the alignment of the spine. The patients were happy with the cushion and I am glad that it had a positive impact.
In my design process, I found that natural latex is more supportive than memory foam or polyurethane foams, and it has a higher density that helps to keep the spine in alignment. I also wanted the cushion to also have a 4-way stretch vegan leather so that it would be comfortable and durable. After months of testing different prototypes, I finally designed a seat cushion (in the 2 pictures above) that met all of my criteria.
The cushion has received positive feedback from many of my patients and I believe it can have a positive impact for others as well. The latex and high density materials in the cushion aim to provide support and comfort. The vegan leather is designed to adapt to the user’s body for a comfortable seating experience. Whether you are seeking comfort or looking for a solution to improve your seating experience, I believe that this cushion is worth trying.
I explain the concept of my design on a TV show HERE
Why Do My Legs Hurt for No Reason?
If you have ever dealt with tight hamstrings, you know how aggravating they can be. Many people don’t even realize they’re at risk for this until their muscles are already sore from the excessive activity. Often, tightness in the hamstring is caused by things like exercise or playing sports.
Taking less exercise isn’t going to fix everything (although it might help!) as exercise puts strain on your hamstrings leading to tightness over time. Performing these exercises may cause you discomfort or muscle cramping. Look for other exercises that you can do to stay fit without causing much damage to your body.
The Difference between Sciatica and Tendon Injury
As a general rule, a lot of discomfort can be caused by sciatica and hamstring pain, both of which are common injuries. They’re often mistaken for one another, but sciatic symptoms feel like a pain in your back or buttocks region; this is caused by irritation on the sciatic nerve, and hamstring pains happen when there’s too much tension at either end of the muscle – so you might be feeling some tightness up near where it connects with bone (called an iliotibial band), right below where they cross over each other( called a biceps femoris)or deep within them just above their attachments onto bones such as tibia and fibula).
Here is a video that I made on leg cramps that you must watch!
If you’re experiencing hamstring pain while sitting, it may be due to your posture. A lot of people who suffer from this type of injury are those in sedentary jobs and spend a long time sitting down every day.
When we sit for too long the hamstrings tighten up because they aren’t used to being that tight for such an extended period of time. The muscles also shorten which can lead to even more problems if left untreated or ignored over enough time. For the most useful guidance on ergonomic information visit our blog here!
- Croisier, J.L., Forthomme, B., Namurois, M.H., Vanderthommen, M. and Crielaard, J.M., 2002. Hamstring muscle strain recurrence and strength performance disorders. The American journal of sports medicine, 30(2), pp.199-203.
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- Jang, J., Koh, E. and Han, D., 2013. The effectiveness of passive knee extension exercise in the sitting position on stretching of the hamstring muscles of patients with lower back pain. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 25(4), pp.501-504.
- Al-Eisa, E., Egan, D., Deluzio, K. and Wassersug, R., 2006. Effects of pelvic asymmetry and low back pain on trunk kinematics during sitting: a comparison with standing. Spine, 31(5), pp.E135-E143.
- Oakley, P.A., Ehsani, N.N. and Harrison, D.E., 2019. Non-surgical reduction of lumbar hyperlordosis, forward sagittal balance and sacral tilt to relieve low back pain by Chiropractic BioPhysics® methods: a case report. Journal of physical therapy science, 31(10), pp.860-864.
- Eirale, C., 2018. Hamstring injuries are increasing in men’s professional football: every cloud has a silver lining?. British journal of sports medicine, 52(23), pp.1489-1489.