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Tight Hamstrings?

Tight hamstrings?

By Saul Yudelowitz Bsc (Hons)

Please note that is article has been taken from a lecture given to the medical profession and has therefore been written in an according manner. Should there be anything that is not understood please feel free to contact us.

Tight hamstrings are becoming a very common finding in the clinical setting, most patients say that they do stretch but this makes no difference or very little difference to the muscle length!

There are typically two main reasons for thisÖÖ..

* The Gluts are neurally inhibited and
* Wrong type of stretching

Neurally inhibited gluts

I have been treating professional athletes for the last 5 years. Hamstring strains are very common especially in sprinting sports coupled with sudden direction change like football.

In over 80% of athletes biomechanically assessed the gluts are neurally inhibited, this results in the hamstrings (usually all three however the semmiís more so than the Bi Fem) being over recruited and usually becoming eccentrically tight. The reason for the gluts being neurally inhibited is tight Psoas. I have demonstrated many times that the hamstrings relax and lengthen after the Psoas has been stretched out and the gluts become active. This issue is usually more pronounced with patients that sit during their work day as the gluts become even more neurally inhibited from a seated position. Another issue with this coupled chain of neural inhibition of the gluts is that most patients AND ATHLETES are taught the incorrect way to stretch, especially the Psoas! It is a well established scientific fact that the body uses many different muscles to move the skeleton. These different muscles could be seen as the links that make up a chain. Not knowing how these chains work as well as not being able to asses how a patient or athlete uses the links to form the chain, thereby creating movement will always result in injury! From this it should be clear that if you just stretch one or two links of a chain you will not alter the movement of the skeleton in a positive manner! Having an understanding of these chains is essential. As an example the pelvic floor is both neurally and facially attached to the feet and so foot biomechanics have a significant impact on the function of the pelvic floor. After assessing many Pilateís instructors, their pelvic floor was found to be strong but not functional. There needs to be an understanding of the difference between strong and functional muscle.

Types of stretching

Stretching is a passion of mine because posture is the foundation of all movement and flexibility is the foundation of posture. It is commonly noted that many therapists advise their patients to stretch out the hamstrings by standing up and bending forward as if to pick up an object off the floor. There are many variations on this stretch like sitting on the floor and bending forward. Letís look at basic biomechanics. When the pelvis is tipped in the posterior direction while the lumbar spine is flexed the hamstrings will contract eccentrically. This has actually been used as an exercise for the gluts and hamstrings by Olympic lifters for many decades! The above example of stretching is actually a stretch for the lumbar spine; once again the links that form the chain to create movement must bee understood so that functional flexibility can be obtained. There are a few other issues about stretching that canít all be covered in this article. One main point is that there is a significant difference neurally between sitting and standing when stretching. Ideally we want to lengthen muscles relative to the standing posture and not sitting or supine/prone positions.

Should you have any questions feel free to contact us, if you would like to learn how to obtain functional flexibility please book in for treatment.

The information contained in this Newsletter was prepared from medical and scientific sources which are referenced and are believed to be accurate and reliable. The information herein should not be used to treat or to prevent any medical condition unless it is used with the full knowledge, compliance and agreement of your personal physician or other licensed health care professional. Readers are strongly advised to seek the advice of their personal health care professional(s) before proceeding with any changes in any health care program.

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