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I'm a 28yo female, very physically active (circus arts, martial arts, cycling, yoga), and have been for my entire life. I have partial hyperflexibility (arms, lower back, toes), and have been working towards general mobility and flexibility for my entire life. For the past year I have noticed chronic tightness in my calves, posterior knees, hamstrings and periformis, one leg worse than the other. My splits have worsened, it's as if my body wouldn't let me go further, only getting worse, it feels very sudden. I understand that it comes with age and all, and maybe I have overworked it.

Basically, it's normal for me to have a mild stretching or yoga practice, and within literally minutes my legs go back to being as tight as if I've just woken up. I can see no progress at all. I could never do full on forward folds, but I can easily lie down onto my left leg, while my right leg wouldn't let me anywhere near it.

It worries me because stretching - static or dynamic doesn't seem to help at all, maybe even hinders it. Sports massages leave me sore, as they should, and do nothing either. I keep well hydrated, take magnesium, my protein intake seems to be adequate. The physiotherapists I have seen don't seem to be understanding the problem. I get some relief with being taped, but not close to the ideal state. How do I untense myself?

TL DR: chronically tight muscles in the back of the legs despite stretching

  • have you gained mass, especially muscle mass? Did you perform any strength training recently? Do you keep log book/journal? – Oct18 is day of silence on SE Jun 29 '18 at 0:42
  • have you gained mass, especially muscle mass? Did you perform any strength training recently? Do you keep log book/journal? – aaaaaa I haven't gained any significant amount of muscle, as I don't do strength training as such. I do aerial silks and cycling, which are the most strength taxing for me. But those are mostly body-weight and resistance. No, I do not keep a journal. – Maria Jun 29 '18 at 8:49
  • Have you considered that the issue is in fact not flexibility, but strength? Or possibly that the issue isn't your hamstrings, but something like overly tight hip flexors causing anterior pelvic tilt, meaning your hamstrings are in a permanently stretched position already? – Dark Hippo Nov 30 '18 at 9:44
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If your goal is overall physical fitness (power, strength, stamina, coordination, skill), stretching is not very important. A study of 1400 runners showed that stretching before running has no effect on injury prevention. Another meta-study (analysis of 104 previous studies) showed that stretching before exercise actually reduces strength, power, and explosive performance. One of the authors of this meta-study suggests dynamic warm-ups instead.

What seems like "tight" muscles to you is probably not something you need to worry about (unless you need extreme flexibility for your job).

  • yeah, I've heard about those results, but I need to be flexible for what I do. I am not saying full-blown contortion (it would be nice, though), but rather fair gymnastic flexibility. The tightness sort of radiates into my hams, and my calves, and weirdly enough into the soles of my feet. Say, I do a forward fold, and here it goes - the pain in the soles. – Maria Jul 3 '18 at 22:34

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