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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:08 am 
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Hello all,

Two muscles are quite tight on my body, and as you may have guessed from the title, it's my hamstrings and, after a quick google/muscle map check, my tibalis anterior (shin muscles/the long ankle flexors)

When browsing the net generally I find that there's far too many places which claim that stretching is a miracle cure, you can find websites telling you that yoga can make you stronger than a strength trainer etc. So all I am asking for here is... do you regularly stretch problem areas? have you overcome tightness in an area with regular stretching? is it worth me doing stretches for these two areas?

I find that hamstring tightness is a little restrictive - I have only done about four Thai boxing sessions but I find I cant extend my leg properly at a decent height. The tight shin muscles are a little problematic in two areas - one, low squats... exrx article - Ankle Dorsiflexion Inflexibility - I find I have to adopt a wider stance to reduce the tension/a little pain. The second issue is walking down hill for extended periods - I would have though that the actual practice of this would gradually reduce the tightness (i.e. be a stretch in itself) but this doesn't seem to be the case.. since despite a large amount of time squatting, and regular downhill walks on my journey to work, it doesn't seem to have improved.

So two things really.. suggested methods of stretching (which I can google, to be fair) but more importantly, how effective have you found stretching?

Cheers


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:48 am 
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The best stretch is to do a loaded movement through the full range of motion. Increasing the frequency of RDLs and squats would work best in this case. Even doing some lightly weighted ones between your heavy workouts might help.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:54 am 
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@RobertB:

Speaking personally, I found that using a foam roller to massage my hamstrings before stretching made the stretching sessions more productive. Others have done the massage with golf/tennis balls if you don't have access to a foam roller.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:04 am 
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Stretching is an issue. Conventional point of view is to extend the muscle to it full length and keep it there for half a minute - minute for the muscle to actually relax and lose tightness. The time estimation also varies.

Yet, there have been lots of opposing opinions lately that stretching ain't really that useful. I've even heard that flexibility is individual and in your genes. That I don't believe, but I think there is much more to solving tight muscles than just ripping them longer. Take trigger points for example. A bit unknown subject, some compare it to a knot or similar in the muscles sarcomeres. Can those cause inflexibility? I'm sort of finding this out on my own view, as I'm tennisball rolling my hamstrings, peroneus muscles, gastrocnemius and glutes instead of stretching. We'll see if that brings result, atleast to the ROM.

For your issues, the shin raised another question. Does your tibialis muscle hurt when running/walking? Or is it just the downhill walking? Because I was wondering if it could also be some sort of shin splint. This just popped into my mind tho. Do your heels rise from the floor when deep in a squat? Or does it help if you put something under your heels when squatting? i.e. small plate.

If you choose stretching however, don't do long stretches before or right after a work out.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:26 pm 
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this is the kind of thread that KPj dreams about, so no doubt he'l chime in and give some great advice.

In the meantime, one thing to be conscious of is that if you have an anterior pelvic tilt (like 99% of the population does), then your pelvis pulling forward actually puts the hamstrings in a stretched position already. Stretching them even more may actually do more harm than good.

Counterintuitively, it may actually be a better idea to stretch the $h1t out of your quads/hip flexors. I personally like the one in this article:

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... ng_part_ii

(it's the 6th one down)

What that should do, in theory at least, is restore the alignment of your pelvis, meaning it'll pull on your hamstrings less and allow them to relax a bit.

That's the theory anyway. I've been trying to get it to work for years and it hasn't yet...


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:39 am 
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Cheers guys

Quote:
Does your tibialis muscle hurt when running/walking?

No never - strictly downhill walking, yes it helps to use the plates under my heels, I struggle with front squats and would find them very very difficult without heel support.

@Stephen - Yea I'm such a lazy git with those, I should get myself into gear with them and at least give them a try

And yea Stu I do tend to do third world squats when it pops into my head, that does seem to help stretch out but as I say... it's been a long time, and regular squats are common place in my routines, especially in novice days, but there's barely any improvement aside from a little more pain endurance (seems to be a trained thing, correct me if I'm wrong, certainley seems true in my cycling for quads).

Will have a play around with those Rscott, I guess no excessive extending of the hams

It's not exactly a massive factor in my training life, but now that I am hitting my strength goals I am exploring different targets for this year (touch of bodybuilding/fat loss, cardio/cycling endurance, martial arts/thai boxing) and just thought I'd add improving flexibility in there too


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 1:50 pm 
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stuward wrote:
The best stretch is to do a loaded movement through the full range of motion. Increasing the frequency of RDLs and squats would work best in this case. Even doing some lightly weighted ones between your heavy workouts might help.

Maybe for the hamstrings, but neither of those movements will stretch out the tibialis anterior.

Image

This would though.

Shin splints aren't necessarily caused by the TibAnt being tight though, it could just be hurt from absorbing shocks, and it could be bad to overstretch an injured muscle.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:03 pm 
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I'm not sure of your point. It's weak tibialis anterior that contribute to shin splints, not tight ones. Usually it's the calf muscles that are too tight. You strengthen the tibialis anterior by raising the toes, which stretches the calf muscles at the same time. If you work the calf muscles through the whole ROM, you also stretch the calf muscles. If all you do is bounce on your toes without going to full ROM at the bottom of the movement, your calves will be tight.

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Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.~Hippocrates
Strength is the adaptation that leads to all other adaptations that you really care about - Charles Staley
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