A guest post by Dave "The Band Man" Schmitz
Hamstrings are not always tight because the muscle itself is restricted.
You need to remember there are several components to hamstring tightness:
- Structurally tight hamstrings
- Myofascial stiffness
- Stabilization weakness or muscle imbalance
- Nerve tension restrictions
Any of these 4 can cause hamstrings to be tight but unfortunately they do not all respond to simply stretching out the hamstrings. Matter of fact, in 3 of the cases, hamstring stretching with bands aggressively will probably not result in any improvement or possibly make them even more restricted. This is definitely the case when it comes to hamstring stretching with bands when the problem is nerve tension restrictions.
Hamstring stretching with bands using an aggressive over pressure is probably not the best option for nerve tension issues
How the nerve becomes restricted.
I am not going to provide you an in-depth, microscopic description on how the nerve gets restricted because I don’t have that level of understanding. The way I best can describe it is that as the nerve travels through the neuro-tube it gets struck up against the inner lining of the tube and subsequently cannot glide freely through the tube. I picture pulling a string through a narrow piece of PVC pipe. As the string is pulled through it gets struck on the inner surface of the PVC pipe. As a result the more aggressive the pull the more likely the string gets damaged or breaks. Subsequently the best way to free this up is by gently pulling on the sting repeatedly in hopes of freeing it up and releasing it from the restriction. Essentially this becomes more of mobilization approach versus aggressive stretching approach.
Getting a Baseline
Using the Active SLR test, trainers and coaches can provide a baseline value to hamstring flexibility. Once this is established the next step is to determine why the hamstring is restricted and specifically if there is a nerve tension component.
One of the ways I determine this is by asking the clients where they feel the greatest amount of tension when placing the hamstring on a stretch. If they report in the calf, especially when the ankle is significantly dorsiflexed, I become very suspicious of nerve tension tightness and will typically implement a different type of band stretching.
Hamstring stretching with Bands for Nerve Tension tightness
One of the reasons hamstring stretching with bands is so effective is because it provides an accommodating counter force that allows the quadriceps to active lengthen the hamstring. Also by applying the band against the foot in the correct location, it allows the ankle to be passively dorsiflexed while performing an active lengthening of the hamstring using the contraction of quadriceps.
These two components, working together, create an effective way to mobilize the nerve tissue that ultimately frees it up and gets it moving within the neuro-tube without restriction.
The following video will help assist with learning how to effectively perform hamstring stretching with bands to address a neuro-tension issue.
Getting BETTER with BANDS,
Dave "the Band Man" Schmitz
Best way to learn how to implement corrective group training exercises using bands