Therefore it is essential that football players look after these muscles to ensure they stay fit throughout the season and one of the best ways is by introducing foam roller hamstring exercises to your daily routine.
What Are The Hamstrings?
The Hamstring Muscles are made up of three separate muscles the Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus and Biceps Femoris:
Why Do Hamstring Muscles Get Tight?
There are many reasons for tight or strained hamstrings but the most common is from a previous hamstring injury.
revious injuries can cause scar tissue, nerve and ligament damage, and a number of other issues that might be causing pain or tightness in your hamstrings. If this sounds like you, foam rolling your hamstrings at home will definitely give you some relief, and may even get you feeling normal again
Something that might be surprising is that often times, people who think they have tight, painful hamstrings actually…don’t. It’s a funky conditional called adverse neural tension, where restricted bloodflow in one part of the body (like the spine) can lead to pain signals in another part of the body (like the hamstrings).
There are many reasons your j muscles may tighten, however, the main ones are:
Tension or stress: When you’re stress or feeling tense, you may clench your knees together or pull your feet back underneath your chair. This is a common reaction to stressful situations and our body performs this without us knowing. Both movements require hamstring muscles, which results in tightness of the hamstrings.
Long Hours Of Sitting: If you hold a position for too long, your muscles will adapt to lengthen or shorten to that position. When you sit for long periods of time, your hamstrings are in a shortened state. Therefore, you should look to stand up and stretch your legs every 30 minutes to keep the hamstrings healthy.
Problems with your back: Back problems are also common in athletes. A back issue can put a great strain on the hamstring muscles because if your back is weak or injured the hamstrings will take on the backs workload to stabilise your core.
There is a condition called adverse nearual tension (ANT), where restricted bloodflow in the back can lead to pain in the hamstrings. If you are suffering from ANT we suggest rolling your glutes and hipflexors along with your hamstrings.
However, as the body is all connected, sometimes it may be tight hamstrings that cause the problems in the back. So, addressing tight hamstrings may alleviate the issue altogether.
Lack of core strength: Core strength is essential in any sport, especially football. However, if you are lacking in core strength (much like a back injury) your hamstrings will have to work harder to help support the trunk of your body.
Poor movement: habits If you do not move correctly, this can create various problems throughout your body. An example of this is players not using their Glute muscles when performing a squat. By not performing key movements properly, there is more stress put on the hamstrings muscles.
Can You Foam Roll a Pulled Hamstring?
Beleive it or not, we’ve received many emails asking questions similar to this and the simple answer is no.
A pulled hamstring like any injury needs time to heal. So forcing direct pressure onto the injured area will do more harm than good.
You should aim to gently massage the area around the injured muscle with the foam roller. This should not cause any pain.
Whilst the hamstring is healing you can massage the:
- Hip flexors
- TFL and IT Band
However when your hamstring has healed, scar tissue will form which will restrict flextibility.
This is when foam rolling will be beneficial.
What Can footballers do to help with tight Hamstrings?The feeling of tight hamstrings may be down to a number of thingThere are many techniques you can do to help increase the mobility or decrease the pain in your Hamstrings The most effective methods are:
- Paying for a sports/deep tissue massage from a sports therapist. This can become expensive as you may need more than 1 appointment to see results.
- Adding a flexibility routine to the end of your training session, where you hold the hamstring stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute. This should be performed daily if possible for at least 6 weeks.
- Foam roll your Hamstrings (exercises below)
Why Are Hamstrings Muscles so Important for Football
So we know why the hamstrings may get tight, but why should this affect you?
Football players rely on strong hamstrings, as their main role is to bend the knee. If you have strong healthy hamstring you are able run faster, jump higher and stop with more efficiency. Healthy hamstrings also help prevent lower let injury and support your body in promoting a good posture.
As you sprint your hamstrings work to slow down your lower leg, as you foot hits the floor, the hamstrings then straighten your hips, allowing your trailing leg to drive forwards.
Therefore proper maintenance of your hamstring is essential for footballers.
How Does Foam Rolling Help Your Hamstring MusclesFoam rolling your hamstring can help with recovery, flexibility and performance on the pitch.The two benefits below can help to improve your training capabilities by increasing the frequency and duration you are able to train, this will improve your overall gains from training and matches.
Foam rolling hamstrings increases range of motionA study by the Dept of Sport Sciences, Iowa Western Community College found that foam rolling combined with static stretching increases flexibility. The best results were achieved when subjects foam rolled immediately before performing there static stretch routine.However, this would only be appropriate for non-injured players who currently have less than 90° range of motion in the hamstring muscles.
Foam rolling hamstring decreases painPearcy et al. study into the effectiveness of foam rolling found foam rolling can severely decrease the painful effects of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOM) after exercise. This study also highlighted improvements in performance for athletes use the foam rolling technique.They suggest that using a high density foam roller for 20 minutes straight after exercise and every 24 hours at that can reduce the chance of tenderness in the muscles and any reduced movement in the joints.
When Should You Foam Roll Your Hamstrings?Foam rolling can be performed everyday, however we understand this may not be achievable for every player.So we suggest:Before exercise – Add your foam roller routine to your pre- exercise warm up.After Exercise – include your roller routine as part of your cool down.When your hamstrings hurt or feel tight – more often, than not this pain can result from a trigger point in the muscle. So rolling can ease the pain. For the best results when foam rolling your hamstrings you should always perform static stretches afterwards.
Foam Roller Hamstring Exercises
If you’er new to foam rolling, you may find the first few days uncomfortable, however you will soon realise the benefits and may even grow to enjoy it.
Video showing how to foam roll the Medial Hamstring
This video shows how the role the medial (nearest the midline of your body) section of your hamstring.
This should be performed before static stretching for the best results.
Credit: National Academy Of Sports
Video showing how to foam roll your Lateral Hamstring Muscles
This video shows how to foam toll lateral hamstring muscles (Biceps Femoris)
Credit: National Academy Of Sports
Advance Hamstring Foam Rolling Technique
This video shows how to isolate the Adductor Magnus muscle. This one is best performed on a gym bench.
Credit: Trigger Point
How to Foam Roll your Hamstrings
- Sit on your mat and extend your legs. Rest the back of your lower leg on the foam roller, just above the back of the knee. With your hands just behind your hips (fingers facing outwards). For added pressure, you can place your other leg on top of the leg you are working on.
- Using your arms, left the hips off the ground so that the back of your thigh is sharing the weight with your arms. Then slowly role to just below your glute area. (make sure you keep the foot relax throughout). Do this 5 times.
- If you find a tight spot, stop and hold the pressure on that area for 20 seconds. Then continue rolling at about 1 inch per second.
- Repeat for the opposite leg
- Maintain pressure on the muscle
- Do not roll bone
- Spend more time on the uncomfortable knots or trigger points.
Static Hamstring Stretch
As a footballer you need to know how to stretch your hamstrings with a foam roller. For the best results you should always perform static stretches immediately afterwards rolling.
This video shows the best foam roller hamstring stretch. This static stretch will help to improve your flexibility.
Credit: National Academy Of Sports
Upper Body Foam Rolling Exercises
- How to foam roll your neck muscles
- How to foam roll your shoulder muscles
- How to foam roll your chest muscles
- How to foam roll your lats
- How to foam roll your rhomboids
- How to foam roll your arm muscles