Ham-strung?

Sep 29th, 2010

Ham-strung?

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Colin proving his mastery of bodyweight exercises.
 

Last weekend, I attended the Olympic Lifting seminar with Jo Ann Arnold and Max Aita at Crossfit Oakland.  First off, I liked the seminar and learned a lot. One of the things they talked about was the importance of the posterior chain in the Olympic lifts.  We all know that the muscles around the hip are the strongest in the body–the glutes, quads and hamstrings.  But did you know that if your hamstrings are tight, it will effect your ability to catch and hold the bar overhead?  Tight hamstrings will pull your hip into a non-optimal position, and this will be more pronounced when you have weight overhead. I know this seems obvious, but I thought I might mention it for those of us who have trouble with the snatch and the overhead squat.  These stretches might help you make progress with these lifts.

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1. Lie in a doorway with one leg on the ground and one leg up the wall, as Steve is doing. (Most of us will not be able to sit quite so close to the wall.)  Make sure your hips are in line.  Press your leg firmly into the wall (or at straight as you can make it).  Hold 30-120 seconds on each side.

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2. Start in a lunge position on the floor.  Have both of your knees bent at a right angle.  First straighten your back lag while keeping your hands on the floor.  Press the bottom of your back foot into the floor.  Now straighten your front leg as much as possible.  Most people will need to put their hands onto a chair in order to straighten their front leg.  You should feel a stretch in the hamstring of your front leg.  Hold 30 seconds and then switch sides.

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3. Stand in front of a wall and place your hands against the wall.  Walk away from the wall slowly, dragging your hands down the wall until your body is bent at a right angle.  Keep your knees soft.  Take a deep breath and as you exhale, straighten your legs. Make sure to keep your arms firmly pressed against the wall and back extended.  Hold 30 seconds.

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Here Stacy demonstrates the straight legs at the end of the stretch.

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4. If you have someone you can trust to do this stretch with, great.  If not, you can always do this with a yoga strap.  Lie on the floor and lift one leg up to the ceiling.  Bring that leg up until you start to feel a stretch.  The partner (or strap) holds this stretch for 15 seconds. Now engage your leg and press into the partner or strap for 10 seconds and release.  As you relax, the partner (or strap) will press your leg further into s stretch.  Hold 15 seconds, then relax.  Make sure to do both sides.