It is winter time and for most of us that means a lot more time spent indoors. That usually means that we are sitting a lot more, and moving less. This can lead to tight hamstrings, which in turn can lead to back pain. Christmas also brings along a lot of traveling for plenty of people, so now is a good time to start some prevention work. Especially if you have a ski holiday coming up. Here are three very short videos on how you can test, smash and stretch your hamstrings. Your hamstring is a common name which includes these three muscles m.semimenbranosus, m.semitendinosus and m.biceps femoris.
What to think about when you do the hamstring test:
The leg that is on the ground should stay straight and in contact with the floor the whole time. The leg you are raising up should be straight at all times, no bending of the knee. When things are good you should get to at least 90 degrees without any problem. If not you have got some work to do.
Is there a big difference in flexibility in the two legs? Make sure you put in some extra work on the side that is less flexible. Asymmetry is harder for the body to deal with, as the side that moves a bit better has to compensate for the side that does not move well. The guys from MoveU are a little bit crazy, but they are energetic and to the point, and that I like!
*Unfortunately the videos from MoveU are currently not available on YouTube. I have added three different ones instead. As soon as the original ones are back I will post them here.
What to think about when you smash the hamstring:
The automatic reaction from the muscles when you try this is usually to tense up a bit. Therefore you may not “feel any tightness” right away. If this is so, take a couple of deep breaths and really let your leg sink into the ball. Once a bit more relaxed, start moving the leg in search of those tight spots. If you find yourself tensing up again, just go back to taking a few deep breaths, and then try again.
What to think about when you stretch the hamstring:
Try to keep the movement dynamic. Meaning, slowly move the leg from one position to the next (bend and straight the leg). From my experience the body seems to adapt quicker when we do it this way, and there is a lesser chance of overdoing it, rather than just holding a static stretch and pulling on the muscle.
Finish with a re-test to make sure that you did a good job, and have improved the flexibility of your hamstrings. If you do not have someone who can help measure your improvement, putting up some temporary marks on the wall with tape, can be a great visual.
If you are a runner, or on your way to your ski holiday, it is extra important to pay attention to a proper warm-up. Going straight from sitting into doing sports in cold weather will take a lot of extra effort from your body. This can be a killer for already tight hamstrings, as it takes longer for the body to heat up. A good warm up will significantly decrease your chances of getting injured. Here is a reminder of what a quick, good warm-up looks like.
Take care of your hamstrings, and they will take care of you.
Enjoy your weekend! 😉