Static Stretching for Your Spine and Hamstrings
For many gym enthusiasts, muscle tightness is not a foreign experience, especially after strenuous workouts. Regardless of activity levels, these common muscles are often tight.
What on earth is posterior chain?
The posterior chain muscles include the group of muscles that run alongside your spine and also include your gluteal (butt) muscles, hamstrings, and primary calf musculature. We’re going to focus on the spine and hamstrings.
While muscles of the posterior chain often work in synergy, they each perform various interdependent functions to keep us moving and can be compartmentalized.
Baby’s got back: the spine
The muscles know as the erector spinae are located on each side of the spine and are responsible for your upright posture while sitting, standing, and walking. They are made of there main intrinsic muscle groups that stretch out vertically around the spine and work to provide stability and mobility.
The thickest of these major muscles, the lumbar paraspinals, is often tight. We often find ourselves bending to tie our shoes, lift boxes, or help our children. Humans often flex forward at the hips putting a large amount of stretch on the lumbar paraspinals and, consequently, requires them to contract to allow your body to return to the erect state. This repetitive motion can cause the muscles to become tight or create knots.
This tightness can be difficult to resolve. If unresolved, it can lead to static and dynamic positions. If the tightness persists, and postural changes ensue, it can be detrimental to your body later in life. Altered posture can leave you more susceptible to injury like disk herniation and nerve root damage.
Not to ham it up, but the hamstrings
The hamstrings are another another major muscle group that is often tight within the posterior chain. They run from your hips down to your knees. The three muscle groups that comprise the hamstrings complex are: biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus.
We have these muscles to thank when we bend our knee. Walking, squatting, and jumping all engage the hamstrings. For those that spend most of their day sitting, this is one of the most common muscle groups that become tight and inflexible.
Tight hamstrings can lead to painful activities of daily living and limitations in athletic endeavors. Additionally, activities that involve running and jumping can prove dangerous for people with tight hamstrings and risk muscle tears.
SMR techniques can be used to alleviate some of the muscle tightness that you may be experiencing. Similarly, static stretching can add the length to your muscles or simply maintain the state of elasticity they already have.
Are you experiencing pain?
Ask your trainer about these stretches
Lat Stretch with Exercise Ball
Hamstring Stretch with Strap
Hamstring Stretch on Step
Figure 4 Stretch
Ridder EMD, Oosterwijck JOV, Vleeming A, Vanderstraeten GG, Danneels LA. Posterior muscle chain activity during various extension exercises: an observational study. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2013;14(1). doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-204.
E S, S W, S G. Comparing Hamstring Muscle Length Measurements of the Traditional Active Knee Extension Test and a Functional Hamstring Flexibility Test. Journal of Physiotherapy & Physical Rehabilitation. 2017;02(01). doi:10.4172/2573-0312.1000125.
The effect of time and frequency of static stretching on flexibility of the hamstring muscles. Manual Therapy. 1998;3(2):111. doi:10.1016/s1356-689x(98)80034-9.