For a stretch as popular as the hamstrings (back side of thighs) stretch, it is often observed being executed with poor form and does more harm than good.Today we cover the top 3 mistakes people make while trying to gain some flexibility in their hamstrings:
- Stretching ‘em cold: As a popular analogy used, our muscles are like rubber-bands, stiff when cold and looser when warm. Hamstrings are no different. If you are trying to increase your flexibility, stretching them before warming up is a bad idea because stiffer muscles show low flexibility. So, do some light warmup at least before stretching and then perform the stretch. You will definitely observe more flexibility.
- Touching your toes: If you can touch your toes with ease, it’s not an issue but if you have difficulties and you are trying to still struggle to reach there, you shouldn’t probably do it. See the picture below where lack of flexibility in hamstrings is compensated with lumbar spine (lower back) rounding. Below that is a better, more safer version of the stretch where lumbar spine remains neutral (straight back) and you can really feel the stretch in the thick portion of your hamstrings. Most of you will not be able to lock out your knees while keeping the spine neutral. Stick to this safer technique till you gain more flexibility.
- Ignoring muscles around hamstrings: Our body works as a single kinetic chain (dependent on each other) for most everyday activities and compound exercises. We observe many runners just stretching their thighs while ignoring calves and hip mobility. If the surrounding musculature around your hams is tight/weak, it can develop imbalances or loss of mobility (difficulty in movements, lower flexibility). So make sure to stretch surrounding muscles (glutes, calves, hip flexors etc) as well to develop good overall joint integrity and strength.
That’s it for today. At PSI Fitness, we don’t include exercises and stretches just because they are a staple in every fitness routine. We consider every client’s limitations, check for what mistakes they can commit and then include techniques which works best for that person. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info and/or check out our exercise consulting services for more details.
In Lucem Scientiam