HuffPo says 'Stop Stretching Your Hamstrings'




I've seen it more than once; a client meets with me with measurable discomfort and/or significant injury because they were pushed and stretched excessively in a yoga setting. 

Injuries that my clients have reported that yoga was a causative factor:

  • muscle tear (hamstring)

  • aggravate bulging disc

  • strained back (not able to stand up right)

  • hip and sacral ligament injury

The HuffPo article, mentioned and attached below, offers a very reasonable explanation as to why stretching hamstrings to relieve tightness is an antiquated myth.  That reason being that the hamstrings do not exist in isolation.  An anatomical explanation is that hamstrings (like all other muscle groups) need an appropriate amount of tension to function properly.  When they do not operate with an appropriate amount of tension motions may feel tight and restricted.  Similar to how a rope or belt needs tension to fulfill it's duties, the muscles operate on a feedback system of tension generation (strength) to know which are fulfilling their skeletal and movement duties.

What would prevent someone from being able to touch their toes or move into a yoga forward fold?  

  • strength imbalance of abdominals and hip flexors

  • strength imbalance of the lower back extensors

  • strength imbalances of the knee extensors and flexors (quads and hamstrings)

  • strength imbalances of the plantar and dorsiflexors (calves and shins)

So this information doesn't change the fact that you feel tight during, before, or after your chosen activities like soccer, yoga, running, weight lifting, cross-fit, boot camp, lacrosse, etc.  You aren't alone.   Step one, change the current approach.

There are several modalities that will add value to flexibility training. Simply changing one's yoga practice is an example.  The new practice approach would be to negate the risk of injury that comes with stretching too much by actively contracting the involved muscles when transitioning and holding poses.  This would be to only move into positions that are executed with full control.  

The more specific approach to complete exercise safety is exploring what positions could potentially degrade or improve the muscular system.  Remember the big idea with exercise and preparing for competition/sport is eliciting positive change, not injury.  If you'd like more tailored advice or need help resolving a specific issue, email me to book a phone consultation.

“So please stop stretching your poor hamstrings and remember that the nervous system controls tension in the hamstrings and stretching them to make them ‘longer’ is an antiquated myth, not grounded in any anatomical reality.”

— Michelle Edwards for Huffington Post