In previous posts we have talked about the retraction or shortening of hamstrings and their effects on the back. How do we know if our hamstrings are shorter than they should? In the consultation we used two very simple tests that give us an idea of the situation of the hamstrings.
1 – The first way to measure the hamstring shortening is with the patient lying face up on the stretcher, as we see in the initial photo of the post, and lifting the leg while it is completely straight. What we want to measure is the angle that the leg forms with the stretcher. At a greater angle, greater elasticity of the hamstrings.
Keep in mind that if we perform this test in a home-made way we may make mistakes in interpretation. The position of the foot and hip may change the test result. There are also causes that can prevent us from raising the leg more as it can if we are suffering from sciatica. In any case, if we decide to do it at home, we can get a rough idea of our situation.
2 – The second way of measuring it is a little more difficult. In the same starting position lying face up, Measure hamstring shortening raise the thigh until it forms 90º with the stretcher, as we see in the photo on the right. Then, holding the thigh in this position, stretch the leg (knee extension) and measure as far as it comes.
Once we have measured the angle, then what is normal? The normal is what happens to most people, which is to have an angle of 70º-80º in the first test and about 15º in the second. If our angle goes too far from these normal values and we have clearly shortened hamstrings, they will certainly have a harmful effect on our back.
There are other ways to measure hamstring shortening but are perhaps more complex to understand and apply. I explain it a bit above. If we lean forward to touch our feet standing with our legs stretched can analyze some data. Many think that if you touch your feet or reach the floor with your hands is that you have good flexibility in the hamstrings. Well, this can only be true sometimes. That we get to the ground depends on the length of our arms and legs and the flexibility of the entire back and hamstrings. The way to measure only the hamstrings would be by looking at the angle that the pelvis makes with the floor.
Spinning with the above, many people perform stretching of the hamstrings in this way. They stand with their legs stretched out and try to touch their feet. Although we indirectly stretch the hamstrings, it is not the best way, especially if we have a lumbar injury. The explanation is this: when we bend forward what we stretch first is the back, especially the lower area, the lumbar. If we continue to lower, the back pulls the pelvis and the pelvis pulls the hamstrings. That is, we are stretching the hamstrings but they are the last of the chain and, what is worse, the first is the lumbar area that can suffer an inappropriate stress. To know the most suitable stretches according to our ailments we will soon release videos in the exercises section of the web.
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