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-   -   Help with hamstring flexibility (http://www.catalystathletics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=74)

Dan McDougald 10-13-2006 10:55 AM

Help with hamstring flexibility
Allright Greg, you've convinced me that I need to stretch my hamstrings. I can't wait until the next PM issue, so give me some help now on what to do.

Greg Everett 10-13-2006 10:57 AM

Just a few more days... Until then, here's one of my favorites: Lie on your back, preferably with some kind of lumbar support to maintain your lordotic arch. Pull one knee to your chest without allowing your hips to rotate AT ALL. Hang out with the knee to your chest for a little while, fighting that pelvic rotation. Once you've loosened up a bit in that position, begin trying to straighten that leg without changing your knee and pelvis positions -- you may not be able to straighten it very much at all, but that's fine. Hold that, making sure that pelvis is static, for 20-60 seconds.

I've found this to be one of the best ways to make sure my clients are not absorbing some of the stretch with their lower backs and actually stretching the hamstrings. It also seems to hit the lateral part of the leg a little better, which tends to not receive as much of a stretch in other positions. Thanks to Kelly Starrett of San Francisco CrossFit, the best PT EVER, for introducing me to that one.

Chris Forbis 10-15-2006 06:34 PM

My PT introduced to a very slight variation on that stretch.

It is basically the same, but instead of pulling your knee to your chest, keep your femur at a 90 degree angle to the floor. Keep it there with a towel wrapped around it that you can pull on to keep it upright. Now do leg extensions while in that position. On a good day I can get my knee angle open to about 135 degrees... yeah, I'm inflexible.

I have also found that I prefer doing it without any lordotic support. That way it forces me to consciously think about maintaining it myself. When I was using my Abmat, I was relaxing too much and end up letting my pelvis rotate.

Duncan Swain 10-18-2006 12:09 PM

Chris - I was wondering if your inflexibility hampered your training in any way? My hamstrings are incredibly tight (see the next thread in this forum for the reason), With legs straight I can bend at the hips to about only 45 degrees on a bad day!

I find that this stops me in OL from really going all out. It's always in the back of my mind that the inflexibility in my hamstrings is going to make me lose my lordotic arch and something's going to go.

Just wondered what your experience was with OL and flexibility?

Robb Wolf 10-18-2006 12:14 PM

Tight hamstrings can really buggar any pulling efforts (DL, OL). I tweaked my sacrum about 2 weeks ago due to tight hamstrings while DL'ing. I actually rotated the sacrum (ouch) and the only thing that has helped is extensive stretching and foam rolling to get at some scar tissue. My home workstation is much of the culprit as I had been elevating my feet while writing. Putting together a standing workstation with a bar stool. Keeps the hip flexors open and encourages me t keep upright and take breaks.

Duncan Swain 10-18-2006 12:59 PM

Robb - do you know what caused your tight hamstrings? And what have you done to stretch them?

Also, I've been trying all sorts of stretching for many years to lengthen/stretch my hamstrings (PNF, frequent visits to an experienced osteopath used to dealing with sports-related injuries) and nothing seems to have much effect. So, in terms of OL, how do I deal with that? Do I avoid max efforts? Do I avoid certain lifts (DLs, squats etc)? Stop OL altogether and pursue other metcon/bodyweight exercise?

Advice appreciated. And of course I'll sttill keep trying to stretch the buggers...

Robb Wolf 10-18-2006 04:03 PM

Long stretches of time sitting on my fanny with my feet elevated. It shortened both my hamstrings and hip flexors. Nifty trick. I used the sequences in Greg's stretching article...that dude throws something worhtwhile together once in a while!

Chris Forbis 10-18-2006 04:53 PM


You nailed it. My tight hamstrings caused me to lose my lordotic arch (never ever had it, actually). So my back got injured and now I'm rehabbing it. I'm starting from the ground up with air squats. Working with my PT helped to increase my self-awareness of my lordotic arch tremendously. So now I'm working on undoing 25 years of bad habits.

Eva Claire Synkowski 10-19-2006 04:22 AM

i had to chime in on this one. like chris, im fighting a back injury due to tight hamstrings/no lordotic arch.

duncan - unless the mecahnics are there, you really shouldnt be doing any movement loaded. it sounds like youre pretty tight, so im guessing some of the form is compromised in ol, squats, etc., in which case flexibility needs to be the priority. the only progress ive made with my hamstrings is frequent stretching throughout the day. getting up at least once every 2 hours for 5 minutes or so. i had been relatively pain free with this protocol for a month. my back recently flared up again since being "too busy" at work these past couple days to get up. if you need some stretching ideas, i second robb's recommendation - check out pm 16 for greg's article.

Jason Smith 10-19-2006 11:17 AM

Greg - Which PM contains the hamstring stretches? From the post above I thought it would be the October 2006 issue, but it doesn't contain them.

Tried the stretch mentioned above and it is great. Thanks.

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