What is the most common area you see people stretching before they get ready to work out or play a sport?
For most people, it is the hamstrings. The hamstrings are the muscles that run along the back side of your thigh and, it seems, the most stretched muscle. So why is this? Does everyone have tight hamstrings?
Well, for one, it may be that we all got used to it from gym class in grade school. Do you remember the sit and reach test? I do, and I was not always the best at it, which made me think my hamstrings were tight.
Also, they always felt tight when I stretched them so that must mean I need to stretch them more, right?
Not so fast. While we do have some people stretch their hamstrings it is not that common. In fact, we recommend most of our clients refrain from stretching the back of their legs.
The reason that stretching your hamstrings may not be a good idea is because they may already be on stretch. Imagine I have a rubber band and I stretch it out. The more i stretch it the tighter the band feels. Well, this is the same with muscles. If your hamstrings are already in a position where they are stretched out then when you stretch them they will definitely feel tight. But that does not mean they need to be stretched more. In fact, stretching may be counterproductive.
If a muscle is on stretch then we want to improve joint alignment and positioning so this is no longer the case.
For example, the hamstrings span from just below the knee up to the back part of our pelvic bone. A common posture, which we have talked about before, is one of which the pelvis is tipped forward (see picture below). In this scenario, the distance the hamstrings span is longer than if the pelvis was neutral (close to parallel with the floor).
Therefore, if you pelvis is significantly tipped forward, most likely your hamstrings are already lengthened and you do not need to stretch them.
I am making this a little simpler than what it really is, but just know that stretching is not always the best idea even if a muscle feels tight. Unfortunately, I cannot give you a simple answer as to whether YOU should be stretching your hamstrings. The best way to know is to get a detailed assessment.
Every single IFAST client is assessed prior to starting their training program and during the assessment we determine what muscles actually need to be strengthened and much more. If you would like more information on the programs and packages that we offer contact us HERE.
Have a great week!!