my hip flexors are now loose, why aren't my hamstrings?

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pdellorto
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Re: my hip flexors are now loose, why aren't my hamstrings?

Post by pdellorto » Mon May 09, 2011 8:48 am

KPj wrote:It's not that you should go around constantly touching your toes, you should just "have the ability" to do so. This is because of what the Toe Touch represents in terms of mobility, stability, and movement (the movement "pattern").
Good post.

This is why "touch your toes" is one of my assessment tools. If someone can, it doesn't mean everything is perfectly functioning and in balance. But, if they can't, I know something is wrong. It might be tight hips, tight hamstrings, injury, thoraric mobility issues, etc. So I use it to see where my clients are.


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Re: my hip flexors are now loose, why aren't my hamstrings?

Post by caangelxox » Tue May 10, 2011 11:22 pm

KPj wrote:Couple of things, really...

If you go down the Gray Cook way of thinking, which I tend to do, then forward bending is an essential movement pattern. Remember the premise of his thought process is to not build strength or fitness on top of dysfunction so, his FMS is a test of general, every day "function". Basically, function is "movement" and there's a whole bunch of movements you should be able to do before loading up your body with heavy weights. For example, you should be able to squat deep (with toes forward) before you start squatting heavy, regardless of how deep you actually squat when training or how you point the toes. In the same way that many use the deep squat pattern as a test to decide whether someone can squat "heavy", many use the toe touch as a test to see if someone should be dead lifting. You could say the the deep squat assesses the squat pattern and the toe touch assesses the "hinging" pattern (hip hinge, really, although it doesn't just look at the hips). Remember a squat isn't a DL and a DL isn't a squat. In "real life" you have the deep squat "movement" and you have the forward bend. In training you have the Squat and you have the Deadlift. So, you shouldn't build a strong squat on top of a poor Deep Squat Pattern and you probably shouldn't build a strong DL on top of a faulty Toe Touch Pattern.

So, in short, if you follow the Gray Cook principles of building fitness on top of a sound functional movement patterns, then this is why should be able to touch your toes.

It's not that you should go around constantly touching your toes, you should just "have the ability" to do so. This is because of what the Toe Touch represents in terms of mobility, stability, and movement (the movement "pattern").

To do it your hips, lower spine and upper spine, and the "core" that wraps around and connects them should all be working together properly. In other words your brain should "pattern" the muscles properly to allow the movement to happen optimally. We should see hip flexion -> thoracic flexion -> lumbar flexion. We should also see a posterior weight shift, whic to me is the biggest "issue" with the Toe Touch. What often happens is the posterior weight shift doesn't happen, so if you keep going, you'll fall. To prevent you from falling, you contract the hamstrings. They're not "tight" they're just working!

Keep your weight on your heels and legs straight, then try and move your knees forward, slowly. Eventually, regardless of how hard you try to stop it, you'll feel your toes pinch the ground and calves tighten up. It's the same thing, really. If your brain doesn't do this, then you'll fall. In Toe Touch, if you don't posterior weight shift, your weight stays forward. The hamstrings need to "save" you.

The main issue we have is, the Toe Touch just get's butchered.... "I can't touch my toes and my hamstrings feel tight therefore I can't touch my toes because my hamstrings are short" is generally what people think or imply. The Toe Touch is NOT a hamstring length test.

Here's a good blog post by Tony Gentilcore talking about it,

http://www.tonygentilcore.com/blog/do-y ... hamstrings" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The Toe touch can seem contradictory because, to do it properly, we need to flex the lumbar spine. However, this is really an over reaction to the war against flexion. Again you should have the ability to flex, you just probably shouldn't train to flex the lumbar spine. Charlie Weingroff calls this the "Core Pendulum Theory", and explains it here.

http://charlieweingroff.com/2010/10/a-q ... um-theory/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

So, to shorten this whole thing for the OP - I disagree that you can't touch your toes because of tight hamstrings.

KPj

I will do the toe touch thing and hope it works. I know my right hamstring feels tighter than my left when I stand up, but when I try to touch my toes, I go down the same length, which is weird. Maybe its a strength issue or cause my left QL is tight and pulling on my left hip? I dont know exactly. I do still have a couple imbalances though with my right side being stronger that I am working on fixing because I play softball (throw right handed and bat left handed). Also my right glute feels more activated then the left when walking. weird because I bat left handed, shouldnt my left glute be stronger? I dont think a tight low back has to do with the hamstrings because after I massage my low back, it does not do much as far as trying to touch my toes.

I know I used to play soccer, so that could of been part of the reason why my right glute may be stronger, but I have not played soccer in a few years (just softball).

one thing I heard about the hamstrings that people with flexible hamstrings are more prone to hamstring pulls correct? I know sometimes I feel strain on my right glute because it works so much more than my left and my right hamstring feels tight when walking...I don't know if the hamstring tightness is a strength issue or not as far as tightening up with my right glute when walking. The thing that bugs me is when I stretch both hamstrings, flexibility is equal but strength is not.

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Re: my hip flexors are now loose, why aren't my hamstrings?

Post by caangelxox » Tue May 10, 2011 11:28 pm

KPj wrote:
caangelxox wrote:because my mom can and majority of athletes can. when I see people stretch on my softball team, dance class, fitness class, etc....they all can touch their toes and I cant.

can you please tell me what my next step is in being able to touch my toes? I got the hip flexors taken care of, now I should be able to touch my toes with no problem but its not happening..even after I get a low back massage, still doesnt work. the lowest I can get is about an inch below my knees.
Look at the video on the Tony Gentilcore blog I posted, and try that. I doubt very much that any individual muscles or even segments are preventing you from doing it. You're probably not shifting your weight posteriorly like you should. I would go straight to elevated toes to lock your weight backwards but, try what it says in the video. Getting to just below your knees is a sure fire sign that your weight is stuck forward.

For anyone to see/feel the lack of posterior weight shift in this test, then stand back against the wall, with heels and glutes touching, and try and touch your toes. I can actually get to around where you say you can get to, before falling over (when I stand against the wall).

I'm sure from previous posts that you have Athletic Body in Balance (I get the feeling, though, that you may have skipped straight to the assessments and not actually read the book??). If so, then follow the toe touch progression, and look at leg lowering progressions, and dowel deadlifts. And read the book :wink: - it's hard to imagine that you've read the book due to how focused you still are on individual muscles and stretches because, if anything, this is exactly the kind of thought process that Cook is trying to get you out of with the book.

KPj

yes I have the book and the toe touch progression better work. Can I do it every night before bed for a week and hope I can touch my toes or will it be longer than that? or is there a certain time I should do it? and I won't get injured doing this right? like for example, I play softball and I am a really fast runner. My strong and flexible hip flexors give me good stride and strength to run fast. I want to make sure doing this bouncy movement won't injure me. It looks like ballistic stretching, which is not very safe.

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Re: my hip flexors are now loose, why aren't my hamstrings?

Post by caangelxox » Tue May 10, 2011 11:39 pm

I just did the toe touch both with my toes up and toes down. I feel like I can touch my toes lower and I squeezed my inner thighs hard, which I know are weak. and I am thinking that may be what is preventing me from touching my toes, my weak inner thighs. I also have a pilates ring at home that I can do inner thigh work on and do this stretch with too instead of using a pillow or my roller. the thing with trying the ring is that its too big and I have to spread my legs apart to even get it through my inner thighs. I dont know if its a good thing or bad thing, but it can be done I guess.

what I hope does not happen is my hamstrings feeling sore in the morning.

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Re: my hip flexors are now loose, why aren't my hamstrings?

Post by stuward » Wed May 11, 2011 7:49 am

For your inner thighs, try side planks with the lower leg bent, not touching the floor. You won't be able to hold it as long as regular side planks. Just do multiple reps.


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Re: my hip flexors are now loose, why aren't my hamstrings?

Post by tyciol » Fri May 27, 2011 9:13 am

caangelxox wrote:I did a lot of hip flexor stretching including kneeling split stance cable rows and press (one arm), and glute work. Now I can do the thomas test and pass it with no problem. I thought the hip flexors prevents people from being able to touch their toes when tight?
They can, but for a completely different reason than the hamstring. The problem with tight hip flexors is basically if the muscle is chronically shortened and tight, it can compact in the hip joint and create impingement or something I think. I think this is also a problem people experience when they try to *pull* themselves into a stretch as opposed to passively letting gravity create the movement. If the hip flexors have tension (concious or unconscious), they might bunch up and inhibit movement in the anterior hip joint, basically. This could actually impede things like squats when the knees are bent when the hamstrings aren't being mega-stretched.

One muscle in mind that stands out in particular as an opposition to hamstring movements is the rectus femoris. Since you extend the knee to stretch the hamstring, this would further shorten the RF and maybe create more compaction issues. This is the opposite a hip flexor like the sartorius which actually get shorter as the knee extends.
caangelxox wrote:Now that my hip flexors are loose now, my hamstring flexibility is the same.
If that's the case, it may have been your hamstring RoM that was the limiting factor to begin with.
caangelxox wrote:When I stretch my hamstrings, it feels like my low back or sacrum hip area is stopping me from going down to touch my toes.
This makes me wonder, are you definitely sure that you're stretching the hamstrings by creating anterior pelvic tilt (that's what does it) or are you possibly rounding the lumbar spine to go down?

One thing it might be is something like fascia... like I remember seeing illustrations of the posterior chain and how there's a line of fascia and all that. I don't recommend doing it to excess, but have you tried arching your back more during a toe touch? It seems counter-intuitive because that moves your shoulders (and thus hands) further away from your toes, but you might lessen tension in the fascia (and be more sure you're not stretching lower back) by doing that.
Jungledoc wrote:What functional movement would be improved for you if you were able to touch your toes?
Image
^^^


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