Do you have sore hamstrings after running? Sore hamstrings may be a symptom of a broader problem, not the problem itself.
The most important leg muscles are not the hamstrings, calf, or quadriceps when you run. The glutes (or butt muscles) are the most important. If your glutes aren't activating or "firing" correctly, your body will compensate by enlisting the support of your other major leg muscle. But why wouldn't your glutes be activating correctly?
Glute Activation Test
Here's a simple test to determine whether your glutes are firing. Lay flat on your stomach with your legs stretched behind you. Lift one leg off the floor towards the ceiling. Place one of your hands on the glute muscle of the leg lifted off the floor. What do you feel? Do you feel the muscle contracting? Try the other leg now. Do you feel a difference in the strength of the glute contraction? If your hamstrings are constantly sore from running, there is a good chance you don't feel a strong contraction in the exercise.
What prevents glutes from activating?
It happens. Over time, muscles get tight from running, and that's why you are likely routinely massaging your hamstring, calves, quadriceps, etc. But two muscles control glute activation that rarely gets attention.
To illustrate the muscles, try this test as well. Stand tall, arch your lower back, and push your butt backward. Then, try to squeeze your butt cheeks. Can't do it, huh? Now, stand tall with your pelvis tucked underneath you and squeeze your cheeks. Feel the difference? In the first scenario, your pelvis was tilted forward and not underneath your body as in the second scenario. It is much harder to activate your glutes when your pelvis is tilted
Pelvis tilt is more than a running form issue. You can try to run (and should) without arching your back and with your pelvis tucked underneath you. However, you shouldn't always have to check your pelvis tilt consciously, and it should naturally sit correctly unless something is pulling it out of alignment.
Psoas muscle and running
Two muscles primarily control your pelvis tilt: Lower Back and Psoas. The location of your lower back is self-evident. Your psoas is an oft known muscle, and it runs down the front of your body from under your rib cage to your upper leg. This muscle rarely gets attention (when's the last time you stretch your psoas versus your back?) and will naturally tighten over time.
Pso-Rite to provide hamstring relief for runners
The Pso-Rite is a specialized tool to self-release your psoas, similar to how you use a foam roller or lacrosse ball to self-massage your quads, calves, and hamstrings. Note the design of the Pso-Rite. It has two prongs that target your left and right psoas muscles.
As I demonstrate in the following video, it's easy to use the Pso-Rite. Start low and slowly work your way up the psoas, looking for points of tension and sitting on those points until they release. You might be surprised at the tension you feel in your psoas the first time using the Pso-Rite. Patience is the key. Spend five minutes each day and see how much better you feel in one to two weeks.
How to know the Pso-Rite is Working?
Here come the sore glutes! You know the feeling if you have ever done weightlifting squats in the gym. As your psoas loosens, you're going to be engaging your glutes properly once again. You might experience soreness as the muscle wakes up and starts working again! You should also experience a lack of soreness in your hamstring and calves as these muscles are recruited less in the running motion.
Best wishes on chasing your running goals!
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