CESSports Medicine

The Hurt Hammy

Are you suffering from chronic hamstring strains or have a client who is consistently hampered by hamstring injuries? The problem might not be the hamstring; the problem might be the psoas and the glute maximus. Many individuals suffer from chronic tightness of the psoas muscle. This may be due to repetitive movement, static postures and or improper training. A chronically tight psoas will cause altered reciprocal inhibition of its functional antagonist, the gluteus maximus. What that means is the overactive psoas muscle is telling the nervous system to turn off neural drive to the gluteus maximus. Now the glute max is turned off and not firing effectively.

With the glute now turned off with altered reciprocal inhibition, a muscle must make up for the loss of function. The muscle that makes up for that function in this case is the hamstring. Now the hamstring is asked to perform its task and perform much of the glutes work. This is called synergistic dominance.

In addition to this muscle imbalance the over active psoas and underactive glute will likely cause an anterior pelvic tilt. Because of the hamstring attachment to the ischial tuberosity on inferior posterior portion of the pelvis an anterior pelvic tilt will cause the hamstring to be on stretch. Now we have a muscle be asked to perform more than one job in a suboptimal position. This leads to hamstring strains.

If you, your client, or your patient suffers from chronic hamstring strains look at the psoas and gluteus maximus. Utilizing CEx protocols apply self-myofascial release and static stretching to inhibit and lengthen the psoas, followed by activation of the gluteus maximus muscle. Complete the activity with an integrated movement exercise such as a ball squat to overhead press. Perform these exercises most days of the week and you will likely see reduction in hamstring strains.

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The Author

Joshua J Stone, MA, ATC, NASM-CPT, CES, PES

Joshua J Stone, MA, ATC, NASM-CPT, CES, PES

Josh is an experienced practitioner, author, and editor who has worked in fields of sports medicine, sports conditioning, and fitness for nearly 20 years. Josh holds a BS in Movement Studies Exercise Science from East Stroudsburg University and an MA in Kinesiology from San Jose State University. Josh is also Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC), Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has earned many advanced specializations with NASM.
As a member of the NASM family, we were saddened to hear of Joshua’s passing in 2019 to lung cancer. To honor Joshua’s strength and to fund lung cancer research, donations can be made at www.supportalcf.org/egfr-resisters/StoneStrong.


  1. November 17, 2012 at 12:59 am — Reply

    Jeanette,Untucking the pelvis to rrsotee the lumbar curvature (which you want all the time), is different than compressing the spine. If the lumbar curve is missing, it means that the lumbar spine is flexing, which is even more detrimental to the lumbar disks, especially when rotating.I think what your patients may be feeling is the fact that they are thrusting their ribs all the time (hint: If you can feel the bony prominence of the ribs or worse, wrap your fingers around them then you are thrusting). If a rib thruster extends their spine (just enough to rrsotee lumbar curve) then they will feel like they are compressing their spine, but they’re doing it from above. In short: Don’t limit the untucking the unstable SI is another symptom of the weak glute (that’s what stabilizes a joint the ligaments are supposed to be backup stabilization, not primary!). Instead watch your moms and cue them to drop their ribs to relieve any back sensations.Because the TVA should be assisting the Uterus during expulsion, the squat is a great place to practice exhales coupled with TVA activation, where the umbilicus moves toward the spine. Again, most people mistake PSOAS activation with TVA, so when the belly button moves, the pelvis should not. A pelvis that moves during TVA activation is a clear indication that a hip-flexor was used.Sneaky Psoas.Hope this helps, and, keep doing the great work you are doing. You humble me!Katy

    • February 19, 2013 at 1:55 pm — Reply

      And for those of you reading who are my tanokwedo enthusiasts, every time you lift that leg in the air to kick, the hip flexor initiates the lift. The hip flexors are used and abused constantly, and deserve the time you give them for stretching. Before a workout or competition you might try dynamic stretches for moving and warming up the muscles. For improving general health and flexibility of those muscles over time, try long, slow, myofascial stretching, aimed at release and elongation of the tissues. Stretching too hard and long before a workout or competition can cause injury, so the timing of these kinds of stretches is important.

  2. November 18, 2012 at 5:56 am — Reply

    Hi KatyFirst of all thank you so much! I came across your blog a few monhts into my pregnancy and the info has been really eye-opening. So different from what we’re usually told (kegels, kegels, kegels!) but it just makes so much sense.I am 9 monhts pregnant, and in an attempt to prevent this baby being breech like my first, I’ve banned myself from sitting on the sofa for hours in the evenings. Since I still want to veg and watch tv, I squat on the floor instead. Yesterday after re-reading this post, I decided to look at myself in the mirror. I realized that when I squat to sit/relax, my back rounds and my pelvis tucks under. If I watch myself through the full squatting motion, my pelvis position is good until my butt is a couple feet from the floor. At that point, it tucks under and I can’t seem to prevent it. Is that to be expected, or is it something I should work on? Is relaxing by squatting with a tucked pelvis/rounded back better or worse than sitting on the sofa? I think that if I lean back and support my back against something I can untuck, so maybe that’s the best thing to do. Any pointers on the best position for lounging around are much appreciated!

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