Children and Sports Podiatry

Posterior Chain Tightness ?

What is the posterior chain?

A tight posterior chain in patients is tightness in the lower back muscles, the gluteal muscles which are your buttocks muscle, your hamstrings and your calf muscles.

Your posterior chain is what propels you forward. If you want to run faster, jump higher, or pivot and rotate more smoothly without causing injuries then this is what you need to work on.

In sports such as soccer, netball and basket ball having a strong but flexible posterior chain is vital to doing well in the sport. This is because these sports require you to be agile, which means constantly chaning direction and velocity, yes speed!

Having a tight posterior chain can increase the risk of growth plate pain at the knee and heel bone. It can even increase the risk of ankle inversion sprains, knee ligament injuries such as ACL ligament tears and leg length differences in the growing athlete. Balance problems have been associated with a tight posterior chain as well as dreaded calf tear injuries.

How do you know if you have a tight posterior chain?

If you walk with a bouncy gait or have a short stride length you are likely to have a tight posterior chain. Here are some simple tests you can do to see if you have tight posterior chain.

3 simple tests to see if you have posterior chain tightness

  1. Can you touch your toes from standing – if not your hamstrings may be tight
  2. Can you sit with your back against the wall with your legs out straight? if not your lower back and hamstring muscles may be tight
  3. How low can you squat with your heels still on the ground? if you can’t squat low you may have tight calf muscles

A podiatrist can help to assess adults and children by doing a full lower limb and gait assessment. They can do sport specific testing to see in there is increased risk of injuries with having a tight posterior chain. Sports podiatrists are able to assess your running gait and see if you have a normal stride versus the stride of an athlete with a tight posterior chain. They can also treat any pains associated with this as well.


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