A Surprising Number Of Problems Arise From Tight Hamstrings
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A surprising number of problems arise from tight hamstrings and, given the frequency of knee injuries among athletes and dancers, it 's obvious that the methods used to keep them free could be better. This article presents a more effective way to free your hamstrings, improve your performance, and avoid injury.
A Look at Your Hamstrings
The hamstrings are the muscles that run from behind and below your knees up the backs of your thighs to your "sitbones". Soft tissue injuries, knee pain, torn menisci (the cartilage pads in your knees that cushion the bones), chondromalacia patelli (painful wearing of the cartilage behind the kneecaps), and poor posture often come from tight hamstrings. Tight hamstrings can prevent you from reaching full…show more content… As you can see, hamstring tension has far-reaching effects on movement, balance, and the health of joints.
Why Stretching Doesn 't Protect 100% Against Hamstring Pulls and Soft-Tissue Injuries
Knowing all this, athletes and dancers attempt to stretch their hamstrings. "Attempt" is the correct word because stretching produces only limited and temporary effects, which is one reason why so many athletes (and dancers) suffer pulled hamstrings and knee injuries.
As anyone who has had someone stretch their hamstrings for them knows, forcible stretching is also usually a painful ordeal. In addition, stretching the hamstrings disrupts their natural coordination with the quadriceps muscles, which is why ones legs feel shaky after stretching the hamstrings.
Fortunately, there is a more effective way to manage hamstring tension than by stretching. To understand how it works, one must first recognize that hamstrings that need stretching are usually holding tension -- that is, they are actively contracting. In that case, the person is holding them tense by habit, unconsciously. Oddly enough, if one tries to relax them, one is likely to find that one cannot; one may then assume that the muscles are completely relaxed and need stretching. You may not realize that those muscles are contracting "on automatic" due to postural habits stored in your central nervous system. Any attempt to stretch them simply re-triggers the impulse to re-contract them to restore