STRETCHING: THE BEST MEDICINE IN THE WORLD!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why You Should Stretch Your Hamstrings:

 

Clearly, it's best to stretch all of your major muscles. Stretching promotes healthy blood flow and fluid exchange, which keep your muscles well nourished and relatively free of buildup of waste products, which http://drbenkim.com/stretch-hamstrings.htm">lead to optimal function and lower risk of injury. If you're pressed for time and can't stretch all of your major muscle groups, I encourage you to at least spend a few minutes daily stretching your hamstrings. When compared to stretching any other muscle group in your body, stretching your hamstrings will likely give you the greatest overall return on your http://drbenkim.com/stretch-hamstrings.htm">health. What are the http://drbenkim.com/stretch-hamstrings.htm">benefits of stretching your hamstrings? If you palpate the lowermost area of your buttocks, you'll feel your sitting bones, which are called your ischial tuberosities, one on both sides of your pelvis. Your hamstrings originate from your ischial tuberosities, and http://drbenkim.com/stretch-hamstrings.htm">travel down the entire back length of your thighs, to insert on the bones that make up your lower legs (calves). While sitting on a chair, reach under one knee and feel for the tendons that represent the three muscle bellies that make up your hamstrings. Towards the outside of your knee, you'll find a single tendon that allows the biceps femoris belly of your hamstrings to insert into the outside bone of your lower leg (fibula). Your biceps femoris is actually comprised of two separate heads, one long and one short, but they both come together to become this tendon that attaches to your fibula. Now palpate the inner aspect of the back of your knee and you'll find two tendons side by side. These tendons are what allow the other two bellies of your hamstrings - your semitendinosis and semimembranosus - to insert into the main bone of your lower leg (tibia). In originating from your pelvis, spanning the length of your thighs, and inserting into your lower legs, your hamstrings directly affect two of the most important weight-bearing joints in your body - your hips and your knees. If your hamstrings are tight as you go about your daily activities, they'll create a downward pull on your pelvis, which can http://drbenkim.com/stretch-hamstrings.htm">lead to dysfunction of your hip, sacroiliac, and lumbar spinal joints. Around your knees, tight hamstrings can create dysfunction between your knee cap and your thigh bone (femur). Tight hamstrings can also put pressure on your patellar tendon (the tendon below your knee cap that your doctor taps to test your reflexes), which can lead to patellar tendonitis or "jumper's knee." Because all weight-bearing joints in your body affect one another, tight hamstrings can indirectly be responsible for dysfunction and increased risk of injury from toe to head, beginning around your ankles, and extending all the way up to your upper cervical vertebrae. Always make sure you do joint mobility exercises first. Some people have found that with intermittent tension headaches they have experienced significant improvement from regular stretching of their hamstrings. Never stretch before weight training, if you do, it will make your muscles weak and that could be dangerous and may lead to injury. After your weight training you can cool down and then do light static stretching. Stretch on the days you don’t weight train and then afterwards get rest and recover. Remember: for both weight training and stretching, good nutrition, plenty of water and lots of rest is what your body needs in order to give you the results you are looking for.  

 

 

What Does Stretching Mean?

 

By definition, a stretch is a specific position sustained to increase and maintain the length of a muscle or muscle group. It lengthens tendons, warms up ligaments, and prepares joints for work. As a result, there is:

 

  • Additional flexibility throughout the body.

  • Increased awareness of muscles and their capabilities during any daily activity or sport.

  • Increased coordination or agility, Quicker removal of waste products.

  • Better posture, Increased range of motion available at a joint or joints.

  • The development of functional or "usable" flexibility, Injury prevention.

  • Increased blood supply, nutrients, and joint synovial fluid.

  • Reduced muscular soreness, stiffness, tightness and inflammation.

  • Personal enjoyment, relaxation and reduced stress.

 

 

What Happens In A Stretch? As you increase tension in a stretch, within a few milliseconds, the spinal cord reflexively tells the muscle to shorten in order to protect the muscle from being overstretched. It takes 6-10 seconds for the brain and spinal cord to perceive that the stretch is safe and, suddenly, the mild pulling sensation you feel of the muscle shortening to resist the stretch is gone. It is in the next 20-24 seconds that the stretch has the beneficial effects. That is a why a stretch must be held at least 30 seconds. When Should You Stretch? Ideally, stretching should be done when the body is warm. A warm up of at least 2-5 minutes of movement is necessary to get the blood flowing and the muscles, tendons, and ligaments warmed up. After every activity, especially taxing ones, you should do a cool-down stretch routine, similar to a warm-up stretch, to relax the muscles that were just exercised. This helps eliminate the metabolic build-up of waste, such as lactic acid, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide, from the muscles to enhance muscle repair and recovery. Otherwise the metabolic waste will cause muscle stiffness, which affects the movement of the joints. The Anatomy of FlexibilityFlexibility is most easily introduced by defining it as the range of motion (ROM) available to a joint or joints. Healthy or desired flexibility should be viewed as a capacity to move freely in every intended direction. The movement should not be confined to the joint's functional range of motion (FROM) or intended movement capabilities. Connective tissues of the joint include: cartilage, ligaments, tendons and muscle fascia or fascial sheath. The physical properties of connective tissue determine flexibility at the joint.

 

Joint Mobility Exercises: In order to get the flexibility you want you have to warm up first.  I believe the warm up should start with joint mobility exercises and then some type of aerobic exercise followed by static stretching and then into dynamic stretching. When most people hear warm up, they think of muscle warm up, getting the blood circulating throughout the body. What they are not thinking about is the joints, the joints of the body is very important because they release synovial fluid to help lubricate the joints in order for them to move easier. In between the bones we have something called cartilage which prevents the bones from grinding against each other.  Cartilage does not have its own blood supply so it relies on synovial fluid.  As we age this fluid in our joints begin to fill up with toxins which can cause damage and even infection.  If you want to have clean synovial fluid you must move them around (synovial joints). This is where the joint mobility exercises come in. In order to get the flexibility you want you have to warm up first.  I believe the warm up should start with joint mobility exercises and then some type of aerobic exercise followed by static stretching and then into dynamic stretching. When most people hear warm up, they think of muscle warm up, getting the blood circulating throughout the body. What they are not thinking about is the joints, the joints of the body is very important because they release synovial fluid to help lubricate the joints in order for them to move easier. In between the bones we have something called cartilage which prevents the bones from grinding against each other.  Cartilage does not have its own blood supply so it relies on synovial fluid.  As we age this fluid in our joints begin to fill up with toxins which can cause damage and even infection.  If you want to have clean synovial fluid you must move them around (synovial joints). This is where the joint mobility exercises come in.