The hamstrings are a large muscle group on the back of your upper leg. These muscles have a vital role in maintaining good posture and a healthy back. However when this muscle group is tight it contributes to the cause of pain in the body, especially in the lower back. Therefore it is essential to maintain the optimum length of the hamstrings to help relieve lower back pain, improve posture and add to good knee and hip biomechanics.
When we want to stretch these muscles we have been taught to try and touch our toes while keeping our legs straight or leaning slightly forward with your leg straight up on a box or rail and even lying on your back with a rubber band and pulling your leg back straight. There are now even hamstring stretch machines in the gym that stretch your hamstring muscles with your leg straight. However stretching the hamstring muscles with your leg straight actually places tremendous stress in your body especially your lower back and nerves.
The reason is that the sciatic nerve that runs down the back of your entire leg is being stretched when you keep your leg straight. Bending forward from the lower back while keeping your leg straight increases the tension on the sciatic nerve. The burning sensation and pain you may experience in this stretch, is very often the sciatic nerve you are stretching, not the hamstring muscle group.
The key to an effective hamstring stretch is to bend the knees slightly to release the tension on the sciatic nerve and then bend forward from your hips and you will then experience a true hamstring stretch. Carl will be blogging on a weekly basis for thesportseagle.co.za. You can contact Carl for more information on how to move naturally or to make an appointment on 076 5243705 or firstname.lastname@example.org