Mel Collie | How long you been stretching those hamstrings?
It seems hamstrings get a poor press – especially in the athletic world, they are always being stretched (usually badly at the expense of the lower back) or being strained.
Where are those hamstrings? You will find them from the back of your knees to the base of your pelvis, and theres 3 of them, its been suggested that one of the inner thigh muscles, the adductor magnus, is the 4th hamstring.
Your glutes also play a part in hamstring effectiveness also, in fact the calves and feet do also..but so does you brain.
Simply stretching it deals with the issue doesnt it…?
Well, lets look at whats going on first…because its not just a short hamstring you are dealing with, we want to know why, because we are assessing, not just guessing.
The hamstrings don’t work just on their own, no muscle does, they all work like an orchestra, in harmony with each other, well, thats the plan..but the way we move, sit walk, stand, the food choices and hydration all affects the inner system, the nervous system, the software, as well as the hardware, the bones, muscles and fascia.
Simply stretching them doesnt last, other stuff has to happen too. The nervous system has control over how the muscles move. Its job is to protect the muscles from harm, so a stretch can be seen by the nervous system as a threat, so it will make sure that stretch doesnt go too far, in order to do that the nervous system simply makes those hamstrings tighter and more sore to stop you from stretching outside the perceived area of safety .
Theres many reasons the brain can put a halt on a stretch, those hamstrings are tight for a reason, could be to reduce range in the knee, maybe because of a previous injury for example.
So should you stretch?
Well, you might get a better result, and I do get better results from clients with a few simple fascial release techniques:
1. Massage your forehead all the way up to the hairline, gentle fingertip massage, for a couple of minutes
2. Massage your cheekbones down to your jaw for a few minutes
3. Massage the head. And if you have got a full head of hair, gently grab a handful of hair, and pull it very gently, you should not feel pain at all, but a gentle pull and circular motion, all over the head.
To assess it, check the length of your hamstrings first, do a forward bend, touch the toes, or lie on the back and lift one leg up, without moving your pelvis from a neutral position, or you are cheating and wont see a true benefit.(keep your bum on the floor)
Further, in using your brain and your senses, I also have great success, on my own hamstrings by seeing the type of person i am, the thoughts I have, and the effect the brain has on your muscles.
I will follow on from this next time, as we go into the nervous system, vision, proprioception and spatial awareness and how it all affects your movement, tight muscles and pain.
For now, if you are into fascial release, one of the best ways to have more flexible fascia is to be hydrated, drink more water and less caffeine.
Enjoy your Hamstrings 🙂