I've got a few lower body issues that I'm trying to iron out, mostly related to sitting and poor posture. My hamstrings are very tight and are severely limiting my hip mobility (which is poor and I am trying to improve). However, it seems to me that my anterior pelvic tilt causes my hamstrings to be in a perpetually lengthened or stretched state.
Is it a bad idea for me to be stretching my hamstrings? Also, if hamstring stretching is safe, then does anyone know of any effective hamstring stretches with the spine in a neutral position? (Trying to encourage lumbar stability)
I sit at a desk all day and have very tight hips. I roll and stretch my hips, then my quads, then hammies, in that order. when i static stretch my hammies before I lift, it lets me get a much better ROM in RDLs, etc.. than if I don't. I don't think I would try and stretch hamstrings if your hips feel tight though, loosen up those hip flexors first.
The stretch I use is I lay flat on the floor, legs straight. Raise one leg up in the air and hook something around the elevated foot and pull it towards you. I can really tell if I start to round my back from this position, since my back will not longer be in contact with the ground.
On a side note, I remember reading in an article by one of the trainers here at T-Nation recommending against static stretching the hamstrings. I stopped doing the stretches, and the loss of ROM in my RDL was noticeable. My advice would be just to try the stretches for a while and see how it goes.
I definitely notice my tight hamstrings affecting my hip mobility on every mobility drill that I do. However, they're already in a lengthened state, and I think it would be unwise to stretch them when they're already longer than they should be - seems like that could lead to injury. That might explain the recommendation against static hamstring stretching.
When I think about it, it seems like a bad idea for someone with lengthened hamstrings to be stretching them even more, despite the fact that they limit my range of motion. I think maybe it would be a wise idea for me to stick to static stretching for just my hip flexors and rectus femoris, and enhance my hamstring flexibility by trying to achieve greater range of motion on hip mobility drills...
I understand the rationale behind not doing static hamstring stretches. Still, I could stretch my hips till I'm blue in the face, and I never could get the same ROM on those RDLs as I do now that I do the stretches. Could just be my body type, who knows? It's always been hard for me to get the bar past my knees on deadlifts because I've got long legs in proportion to my upper body.
Just think, when you set up to deadlift, or do a single leg RDL style mobility drill, your pelvis is should be set into some anterior tilt simply to maintain neutral spine. I would go as far to say that the hamstrings are great at pulling when the hips are set in anterior tilt - that is how we deadlift after all. The hips do not shift to a posterior tilt until lockout.
To keep it short, stretching your hip flexors is highly unlikely to influence hamstring flexibility. Training for perfect static posture is not very specific to the goal of having enough dynamic mobility to do the exercises you want to do.
Look into some ais stretching for the hamstrings(active contraction of the quadriceps aka lift the leg straight up followed by an exhalation of the lungs and a gentle pull of a rope/band to stretch the hamstrings. Hold for 2 seconds, repeat for 10 reps.
Just avoid static stretching muscles that are inhibited. Using ais, pnf, isometric, and dynamic are better choices. And, don't forget to soft tissue your lower body very well, as this naturally stretches the muscles!!!
Actually, in certain cases, stretching the hip flexors can help out with hip mobility in a situation like this. As the OP described, bad posture and long periods of sitting have led to his current problems. When sitting it is your hip flexors that are shortened, and over time, they will be extremely tight from this shortening. To protect against injury, your body will actually start to lock up the antagonist muslces, the hip extensors/hamstrings. They are not tight because they are short, but because they are inhibited by the body. To get rid of this tightness, lengthening the hip flexors may actually help (along with some soft tissue work as well).
I have never encountered a single person that experienced more increased active hamstring ROM by stretching the hip flexors.. and I've seen a lot of people with tight hamstrings.
The brain often inhibits muscle groups based on injury threat, this much is true, but I don't see how you make the leap from "muscles inhibited because body fears injury" to "stretching the hip flexors would help".
To clarify, I didn't really suggest that stretching the hip flexors would actually increase my range of motion, I simply said I'll use static stretching only on my hip flexors and quadriceps, and that I will try to improve my hamstring flexibility by trying to achieve a greater range of motion on the hip mobility drills.
If lenthening the hip flexors does help increase my range of motion, that's great. However, I can see no reason to static stretch my hamstrings. Active and dynamic stretches, however, will be used.
yea stretching the hip flexors implies you are doing some sort of 15 second lunge stretch for 2-3 sets and call it a day.
Id say alot of "hip mobility" work is a much better way to put it
Doing alot of hip mobility drills while doing some basic stretching for quads/hammies is whats worked/working best for me to increase flexibility everywhere not just hamstrings, while also increasing performance and allowing me to perform lifts with much better form and much better safety.
It's not a bad idea to stretch, but it's a better idea to try a few yoga moves for freeing the hips, you'll build some bonus strength in good positions for the body. 2 minutes of yoga leg stretches can warm you up and replace 20 minutes of stretching and foam rolling.
Only negative is you'll look gay and if I see you at my gym I will laugh at you with my friends.
Let me try and explain it differently then. If the OP truly has anterior pelvic tilt, which is very possible, his hip flexors have been shortened from sitting and his hamstrings have been put into a permanently stretched position. This is where the tilt comes from, shortened muscles in the front, lengthened in the back (and also why his hamstrings may be "tight" from the muscle being locked long). Further stretching an already lengthened muscle will not help. The OP must balance the length and tension of the muscles in the hips before he can further stretch out his hamstrings. Thus foam rolling and stretching the hip flexors (along with his mobility drills for the whole hip) will actually help.