Greg - I've been very impressed with your recent stretching features in the Performance Menu and have been trying out your ideas. I've had very tight hamstyrings for a long time now and this situation was made worse by spinal surgery a couple of years ago that fused my L5/S1 joint. Nothing I do has made any difference to my hamstring flexibility, I've been trying lots of different techniques/advice from Pilates to chiropractors to osteopaths. My question is - how severely will hamstring inflexibility hinder me in Olympic lifts in particular, and what should I look out for in particular to avoid injury when O lifting? I'm thinking obviously that squats and deadlifts are th biggest dangers? I can air squat happily (and have been frequently and deeply for 7 or 8 months now), but haven't tried deadlifts at all yet. Hoping someone can help/advise.
The biggest problem with hamstring inflexibility during olympic lifting is the way it pulls the pelvis under during squats - this results in reversal of the lumbar curve, which places undue pressure on the ventral surfaces of the vertebrae. Normal spinal curvature also creates the most stable and rigid back, so anything short of that means risk of injury under loading.
You said you're able to air squat to full depth, but is that with a correct lordotic arch in the lower back, or is your lower back rounding at the bottom? In an unloaded squat, you'll likely be able to get away with this without any real problem, but if you introduce a load overhead or on the shoulders, you're placing a large moment on an unstable spine.
Have you had any success with PNF stretching? If you can, rope someone into helping you. Lie on your back with some kind of support for your lower back curve and have your partner push your leg toward your face. Start with just an easy stretch for 20-30 seconds. Then push against your partner's resistance (activate the hamstrings) while they hold your leg in place - do this for 5-6 seconds. After this, relax your hamstrings and have your partner push your leg gently into a little greater of a passive stretch, and hold it for 5-10 seconds. Repeat that process a few times. On the last set, you can activate your quads/hip flexors and get a little reciprocal inhibition working for you.
Make sure you're super warm before stretching like this.
If that doesn't work over time, for a small fee I can graft some extra long cadaver hamstrings into your legs.
I have flexability issues as well. I am 6'4 and have never been able to touch my toes, stretch really well, etc.
Can you lead me in the right direction? Duncan mentioned in the performance menu. What issue?
Is there a website you can point me to?
I go on Mike V's website a lot. Coreperformance and Atheletesperformance. He has some good video's
PM issues 15 and 16 has the two parts of my last flexibility article:
Basic take-home point in regards to hamstring flexibility is that you must isolate them from the back when stretching--almost invariably people will allow their lower backs to flex when attempting to stretch the hamstrings. Lower backs tend to be extremely flexible and even hypermobile, while hamstrings tend to be exceedingly tight. It's common to hear that hamstrings are unusually resistant to stretching, but I think this is a product of poor stretching and a failure to actually hit them adequately, not any inherent characteristic of the muscles.
PNF stretching will loosen you up as quickly as anything, just go easy--think of it as being akin to training and make sure you recover in between sessions.
Consistency is important too. Someone in your position will need to stretch daily at minimum to see results that will impress you. I would suggest multiple times daily--some light dynamic stretches in the morning, dynamic stretches pre-training, static stretches post-training, and some light static stretches in the evening. Don't overdo it--these stretches should not be avusling the muscles from the bones--you don't need to be in pain for the stretches to be effective.
Some specific hamstring stretching advice in this thread too:
I will buy them this weekend. Better yet....Get a year's worth!
Great site guys.
BTW-Had the Sloppy Joe recipe last night. Not bad!
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