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  • #21268

    I suffer from tight hamstrings. Maybe it is anatomical, or maybe it is from too much skiing. I try to stretch and roll them after, or before, every ski. When I take rest days I usually tread water in a hot spring.

    Does anybody have any exercises or stretches that work wonders on the hams?

    If not I might just move to Spain and eat jamon de bellota for the rest of my days.

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    cramblda on #22156

    Not exactly, and also yes.

    The research shows that stretching helped with flexibility. However, with a couple of considerations. 1) You get an improvement in flexibility from stretching, but it lasts around 24-36 hours. You have to repeat the stretching to maintain the improvement. 2) Research is leading folks to believe that stretching has more to do with a person becoming tolerant to the pain of the stretch, not an increase in muscle length. 3)How flexible someone is, is highly genetic. Things like bone length, joint angles, etc. (anthropometry) play a significant role. It’s likely that elite level gymnasts have genetics that allow them to get into positions that no amount of stretching will allow the typical person to reach. So I do acknowledge that research showed stretching can help improve flexibility. Research also showed it does not help with performance, recovery, or injury prevention.

    Now, to the part you were also mentioning regarding my current education on flexibility for things like L-Sits, Squatting, etc. As I stated, I have been stretching my whole life for sport/exercise since my 1st grade physical education classes, now I’m 42. Recently when I was struggling to get into desired positions for squat depth, L-Sits, Toes to Bar, etc. – I spent a year doing all kinds of “Mobility” work with lacrosse balls, foam rollers, MWOD “Stick”, and there “Super Nova”. I got to the point to where I was doing 2-3 minutes of foam rolling and mobility tools on each of 5 areas of my legs/hips, followed by 2-3 Minutes of PNF (Contract Relax) stretching on those same muscles. I would also hit the psoas, chest, lats, and traps often. This usually amounted to about an hour a day of mobility work. I made some improvement in my range of motion, but it was small for a year of work and never to where I wanted to be. I noticed that foam rolling made feel better while I did it and for about 5 minutes after. Once I was back at my desk, car, etc. the post-training soreness that exists some days would be right back. Pretty soon, I noticed a 5 minute walk gave me the same “better” feeling that 1 hour of mobility work did, and was easier to repeat throughout the day.

    Finally after 6 months of hearing a couple of medical doctors mention the science on stretching over and over, I decided to stop what I was doing and try it their way. They explained that strength was specific, and the best way to get better in a position was to practice it. They said “even if you can squat to ‘almost good depth’ with 275, that doesn’t mean that you can hit perfect depth with little to no weight when you’ve never practiced at that depth”. I practiced squatting with lighter weights and did variations like pin squats and pause squats. In 4 weeks I was hitting depth. In 4 weeks, after trying to stretch for a year and getting almost no where, I had made huge improvement. With the L-sit, I had the same complaint you have and was trying to get better at the pike position. My PT told me to sit down on the ground with my legs out in front of me, leave my but on the ground, and then just lift my heels up. I did it, and my heels came off the ground an inch or two. He said “see, you have enough flexibility to do an L-sit. What you don’t have is enough specific strength.” I started working on my hanging leg raises, then migrated to toes-to-bar. These things were hard to do at first, but with a little practice they got easier and my legs started to stay straighter. Now I’m learning to do hanging “around the worlds”, and want to be able to do hanging wipers. I can’t do them yet, but I have improved a lot in just 4-6 weeks. It’s funny how hard it was for me to improve when I thought all the stretching was necessary for me to be able to reach a goal. Once I let go of that idea and just focused on practicing the movement, or a close variation that would help, I got better much faster.

    I had a false start, or two, in the beginning when I got some soreness after a week and a half and went back to my mobility work – I was skeptical too. Eventually I realized some soreness from training 10-15 hours a week is normal here and there, and it goes away on it’s own in a couple of days. It didn’t go away any faster when I foam rolled. I realized most of the foam rolling “feeling better” was just placebo.


    cramblda on #22279


    Sorry for the delayed response, my training volume is up pretty high right now in prep for 50 mile race in 4 weeks. I finally had time to read through your information. I think my response was too long, had to try and attach.



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    hazelaneysurs on #37384

    I pulled the hamstring during a break, and in addition to stretching, I used compression type thigh sleeves. This thigh sleeve material is thick, but it is very supportive. I control the degree of compression I want by tightening the belt. Wearing it does not prevent me from running / exercising, and it is also breathable. The recovery process is no longer too difficult.

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