Ok, so yesterday we talked about the lower back and its roll in keeping that “midline stability” throughout the body when we squat . . http://melriccardi.blogspot.com/2010/10/squat-pt-1.html
Today i want to move on to tight hamstrings and its effect on the squat.
How to know if you have tight hamstrings?
One test is . . Sit up nice and tall on the floor, legs out straight in front of you . . make sure your chest is up . . back is straight . . not rounded . . stay in this position for 1-2 minutes . . if you can’t stay in this position and you find yourself having to lean on your hands behind you for support . . chances are you’ve got tight hamstrings . .
If your hamstrings are tight, what tends to happen when you squat is compensation when you’re squatting . . somehow that weight has to come up . . and if your hamstrings aren’t firing on the concentric (as you come back up from the squat). . guess what . . one of the other muscles is going to do the job.
What you’ll probably do, without even realizing it is you’ll lean forward in the squat and tend to be a bit more knee-dominant than you should be . . maybe using more quads than hamstrings.
If we can find a way to make you comprise less . . we’re not only putting you in a better position to lift heavier, but you’re not using as much ENERGY through compensating.
You’ll be doing this in no time !!
Sit at the edge of a table . . sit up nice and tall . . nice straight back . . torso nice and tall . . is this not EXACTLY the same position as the bottom of a squat ?? Hip is flexed . . same position.
So go ahead and straighten out your legs, making sure to keep that stomach tight, nice straight back . . NO ROUNDING . . hold those legs out straight in front of you . . if you’re finding that your legs are shaking . . or you can’t hold that position . . which a lot of people do . . you’re not ALONE in the world . .
Now go ahead and hold your legs out in front any way that you possibly can to keep those legs straight . . don’t worry about your back . . do whatever you have to . . what do we notice now ?? That your back is probably rounded . .
What does that mean ? That every single squat . . every single movement where you’re extending . . when you come back up from that squat . . you're moving through your lower back, dumping all that weight on your lower back.
Overtime, those small stabilizers in that lower back are going to give out and your quads are going to constantly be putting out more work to straighten out your hamstrings and that’s going to cost you.
It’s going to cost you VO2 . . fuel source . . energy . .
If you’re an athlete you can’t afford for ANYTHING to get in the way of maximum output . . especially something as small as lack of mobility . . that’s not good enough.
So one thing we can do is mobilize all that shit that’s tight in that lower body . . we get really caught up in saying “I’m going to stretch my hamstring, or my glutes” . . but how the hell do we know what’s tight??? . . there’s a lot of muscles down there . . how are clients supposed to know what’s tight . . ?? So we want to open up that WHOLE area in that lower body and mobilize all that shit that’s getting in the way of those muscles firing . . chances are it’s more than one muscle.
Here are a few stretches and mobility drills you can do to get a bit more mobility in the hamstrings . .
1. ADDUCTOR MOBILITY DRILL - Grab a golf ball, lacrosse ball, or rubber band ball and you’re going to place it just where the hamstring inserts under the glutes . . so just under your butt, there’s an insertion there . . once you’ve found that spot sit down on a chair and roll back and forth until you find a tight spot . . once you do you can do contract relax . . so squeeze butt and tense, hold for 5 secs . . then release . . tense again, and relax . . another thing you can do is extend that leg forward and up and down until you feel the tissues start to relax . . 1-2 minutes . .
2. Same thing, with the golf ball instead of putting it under the insertion you’re going to roll it down and put it at the muscle belly of the hamstring, which is at the back of the knee . . so sit down on it . . pelvis tall . . always have a nice straight back . . now straighten your leg out . . back and forth . . 1-2 minutes.
3. Grab a towel, long enough to pull both ends with, now lie down on the floor with one leg extended straight out or bent if places too much stress on your lower back. Now with the towel wrapped around either your ankle, calf or thigh whatever you can reach, contract and tense that leg, and while you’re pulling that towel toward you, press that leg against the towel to counteract the stretch, perform for 5 seconds, then relax, repeat until you can’t go any further with your leg. This is PNF stretching, it’s a great way to develop flexibility.
You can do these drills before a squat session . . use it as part of your warm up . .
If you guys have any other hamstring exercises you use please feel free to contribute !!
Have a great day guys :)