T Nation

Hams How Tight/Flexible?

How tight / flexible should hams be for optimal lower posterior chain?

I have read more and more regarding hamstrings needing a certain amount of tightness ( and not TOO much flexibility ) so the lower posterior chain has a certain amount of loading/tension and so can pull stronger and more efficiently… but at same time, being too tight doesn’t seem/feel right either as tightness seems to prevent getting into good biomechanical positions and seems to put too much tension on pelvis/lower back.

Is there a consensus that in that hams can be in fact “too flexible” for effective pulling with lower posterior chain?

If so, any thoughts/guidelines as to zeroing in on an optimal amount of flexibility so can get comfortably into good mechanaical position but still enough tension for a strong pull with the lower posterior chain?

If someone has thought about about this, I would be interested to hear about a decent metric in regards to the “correct” amount of flexibility.

I’ll throw out that maybe “just barely” being able to grasp lower/mid shin with straight/stiff legs might be about right amount of flexibility? more/less? I know I should go by probably go by “feel”… but I just ain’t feeling it so far! But, I think I may be erring on the tight side so far.

Thanks,
-Phil

To measure hamstring flexibility you would be better off lying on the floor and seeing how far you can raise your legs. You can attach a rope or band to help raise the leg. I believe the standard for having normal range of motion is 90 degrees (having your legs vertical) with your back flat on the floor. I still think that is minimum and you would be better off with another 10-20 degrees.

As far as strength potential goes, I don’t believe flexibility is going to hurt you assuming we are not talking very extremes such as a gymnast. Olympic weightlifters are very flexible and it certainly doesn’t hurt their strength.

For longevity in lifting I thinking having proper flexibility is one of the most important things. I know I have neglected it and have suffered many injuries over the years because of it. I’m trying to correct my ways now but it’s much harder.

Instead of just looking at the hammies as the limiting factor, try looking at the flexibility of the hip joint as a whole. If one muscle around a joint is shortened/tight, then opposing muscle will be more lengthened. This is how the body adapts to keep the joint stable.

So, if your hip flexors are tight, your hammies/glutes will be in the relaxed/lengthened state. This can lead to cases where the muscle doesn’t fire correctly due to being in that stretched position. If you do additional stretching for the hammies, you make things worse… the hip flexors will become tighter and tighter, makind it harder and harder to get into a good mechanical position. Aaand, it makes it hard to lock out your DLs and squats. If you want to tighten up your hammies, stretch your hip flexors.

OTOH, if your glutes and hammies are tight, your hip flexors will be relaxed.

It’s important to have a good amount of flexibility throughout the joint, posterior and anterior. Having flexible joints shouldn’t negatively impact the amount of weight you can lift.

I think what you’re talking about is muscle tension and loading. Lets look at the DL as an example. If your hips get too low, you take the PC out of the equation, turning it into a squat. So, you raise your hips. How high? Until you feel your hammies/glutes load. This position will be different for everyone. When your hams/glutes are loaded, that’s where you start your pull.

When you say you’re ‘Not feeling it’, do you mean that you’re not feeling your hammies/glutes doing the work, or you’re not feeling the loading before the pull?

I’ll say this… in my training experience and my experience (somewhat limited, under 30) training high school athletes, I’ve only had a couple I could call “too flexible” and both were 15ish year-old girls who did ballet when they were younger. I’ve never seen a guy who couldn’t benefit from additional flexibilty work, mostly working on dynamic mobility drills, but most people just plain feel better ending a tough training session with some basic static stretching, particulary the hip rotators.

[quote]jtrinsey wrote:
I’ll say this… in my training experience and my experience (somewhat limited, under 30) training high school athletes, I’ve only had a couple I could call “too flexible” and both were 15ish year-old girls who did ballet when they were younger. I’ve never seen a guy who couldn’t benefit from additional flexibilty work, mostly working on dynamic mobility drills, but most people just plain feel better ending a tough training session with some basic static stretching, particulary the hip rotators.[/quote]

well put, as others did on this thread. I think I will forgeo this worrying about being “too flexible” theory and just keep trying to improve overall balanced flexibility. I sure ain’t no ballerina!