CrossFit Discussion Board  

Go Back   CrossFit Discussion Board > CrossFit Forum > Exercises
CrossFit Home Forum Site Rules CrossFit FAQ Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 01-18-2007, 11:12 AM   #1
Michael Leach
Member Michael Leach is offline
 
Michael Leach's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Cape Coral  FL
Posts: 446
I dont recall ever being able to touch my toes, not within the past several years anyways. I've read through a couple stretching books and surfed online and tried a bunch of different stretches, but I dont seem to be making any progress.

If I try to do a straight legged toe touch, I always come up 4-5" too short. If its after trying all of the stretching techniques and watching some yoga DVDs and working out and whatnot, I might be able to just barely touch my toes. However, the next day its the same thing over again. I dont seem to be getting anywhere.

I have a couple questions, first off, how do I determine where I'm tight? My problem is touching my toes, whether standing or sitting down. Legs spread and it's still the same thing. However, if I bend my knees, I can touch my toes no problem. I want to get my torso closer to my knees as well. Is that my hamstrings? or my hip flexors?

Also, whenever I do stretch, my lower back is always sore. Which brings me to another concern, and that is, could there be something wrong with my lower back? I recall going to the chiropractor a few times when I was a kid for being picked up and dropped and whatnot, but dont remember much more than that.

Also, when out doing various home projects, the only thing that ever gets really sore is my lower back. Now is there some underlying problem thats causing my lower back to be sore and also me to be tight? If so, could my continuous failed attempts at stretching be making the problem worse? Could I be stretching the wrong muscles out too much, because my body wont allow the correct muscles to release from some underlying problem?

Am I just being a whiner? Do I need to buck-up and start rigorous 30min stretching sessions 5x a day? Or should I visit a sports rehab place and get their input?

Oh yeah, the reason I want to do this is so I can work on V-sits, and presses. Also, it'd help my rowing, as well as probably everywhere else Its pretty painful just getting my body into a right angle (legs straight and back straight).

thanks!
-Mike
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-2007, 11:21 AM   #2
Lincoln Brigham
Member Lincoln Brigham is offline
 
Lincoln Brigham's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Kirkland  WA
Posts: 3,987
Hamstrings.

The hamstrings attach at two points: the pelvis and below the knee. That's why when you bend your knee you can touch your toes - you just took the stretch out of the hammies. That's why your back gets sore - when the hamstrings run out of flexibility they tug on the pelvis. That takes the curve out of the low back. That puts pressure on the low back.

Get Tsatsouline's "Relax Into Stretch" book and learn about contract/relax stretching.
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-2007, 11:23 AM   #3
Elliot Royce
Member Elliot Royce is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Inowa  KS
Posts: 922
I'm also very stiff although 4-5" off the floor is pretty stiff (unless you have short arms relative to legs). I'm not a physical therapist and I suspect a good one could give you the best advice. But here goes....

On the surface of it, like me, you have very tight hamstrings. These prevent you from touching the floor. Also, as I understand it, they can prevent your pelvis from rotating into the best positions for using your back muscles. For instance, it can be hard to maintain the lordotic arch (the good arch) in the lower back.

If I had to guess, you are compensating for lack of flexibility by overusing your back instead of your legs. Your legs are far more powerful.

So, I'd get one of those stretching straps (comes with a bunch of loops one of which you loop over your foot and pull on another). Lie on your back and do hamstring stretches with it. And, for your own peace of mind, you can go see a good sports therapist.

By the way, if any muscle is getting more sore after you stretch, you're stretching it too much. Go into the stretch but not beyond it, if you know what I mean. By pushing too much, you trigger an opposite reaction which actually tightens the muscle and defeats the purpose.
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-2007, 11:26 AM   #4
Michael Leach
Member Michael Leach is offline
 
Michael Leach's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Cape Coral  FL
Posts: 446
I have that book; been trying the contract/relax stretching as well. Any tips or pointers?
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-2007, 11:32 AM   #5
Michael Leach
Member Michael Leach is offline
 
Michael Leach's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Cape Coral  FL
Posts: 446
thanks for the advice Elliot. as far as the going too far thing, i know you're supposed to be relax and never push a stretch, but i sometimes grow irritated and want to see results and am probably pushing a little too hard, which is probably hurting me like you said.

i'll look up hamstring stretches and see what i find. i've been using a power cable from a computer to wrap around my feet to try and pull myself down. ;)
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-2007, 12:14 PM   #6
Michael Leach
Member Michael Leach is offline
 
Michael Leach's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Cape Coral  FL
Posts: 446
oh, another thing, i got a set of gravity boots for Christmas and whenever I hang on them and try to completely relax my body, my lower back is always a little sore.

related? or not?
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-2007, 12:27 PM   #7
Allen Yeh
Member Allen Yeh is offline
 
Allen Yeh's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: reston  va
Posts: 768
Michael,

Things to consider:

1. Recently in an Article by Eric Cressey on T-nation he stated that after speaking with Dr. Stuart McGill they have stopped static stretching the hamstrings due to fact that in Dr. McGill's experience most cases of hamstrings being tight is neural rather than muscular and you are stretching a weak muscle.
Rather than static stretching Eric recommends dynamic stretching, mobilizations and soft tissue work i.e. foam rolling...etc

2. Soemthing else to consider is the fact that your hamstrings may be tight due to synergistic factors in your lower body. In the last few months I've read it from a couple of authors citing that hamstring injuries could result from poorly firing or inactive glutes which in turn are the result of tight hip flexors. Glute activation along with hip flexor stretching could "loosen" your hamstrings also. I'm sure you know some hip flexor stretches so I don't need to mention those but some glute activation exerises I like to include are X-band walks and supine bridging.

I'm used to stretch my hamstrings statically all the time and I'm going to try Eric's advice for a few months and see how that goes. Just something to think about.
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-2007, 01:22 PM   #8
Ben Roble
Member Ben Roble is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Washington  DC
Posts: 33
I think basically everything that needs to be said has been. In my martial arts experience, tight hammies are the single most limiting factor in people's flexibility. it could also be a lck of strength and endurance in those muscles.

I used to ski race and one of the dangers of having weak hammies is that once they tire out, they lose their ability to absorb the impact of hitting a bump or rut. When they go, that shock is trasmitted right up your legs into your back, hence people who have weak legs have pain in their backs after skiing. Could be the same here. You may not have the flexibility, but the lower back pain could also be because you lack the muscular endurance for your activities, which means that your back is bearing an undue amount of the load. Might want to try squatting deeper or something else to activate the hammies and get them more developed. If they're strong and the like then I think it comes to flexibility. Relax into stretch is a great book on that. But don't force, bad for you.
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-2007, 01:47 PM   #9
Megan Greene
Member Megan Greene is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Brooklyn  NY
Posts: 18
Speaking from my ballet background, and as someone who's always been flexible but who becomes more flexible each year:

Hamstring stretches while lying on your back (one leg at a time, with a strap, keeping both legs straight) are the best for isolating your hamstrings, so that your lower back isn't involved in the stretch the way it is in a pike/toe-touch stretch. Hold the stretch for 30-45 seconds and do it three times per leg. Some people say you must stretch every day to make real progress, while others find they make more progress when they take days off. You should see what works for you.

You target different hamstring muscles in that stretch by pulling your foot toward the opposite shoulder instead of keeping it in line. I think it helps to stretch both ways.

When you say "contract/relax stretching" are you contracting your quads while stretching your hamstrings (which supposedly helps convince your hamstrings to relax, although personally I don't like doing that) or contracting and relaxing your hamstrings (which helps me a LOT)?

Since your pike compression is enhanced by back flexibility in addition to hamstring flexibility, it might also help to stretch your back on its own, separately from your hamstrings, by doing the yoga plow pose or similar. (If something IS wrong with your lower back, this might not be a good idea, so be smart about it).

Finally, I am a huge fan of passive stretching. For me, the more I can relax every body part the more I can relax the muscle I'm stretching. So I use tons of straps and pillows and walls and couches to hold my body parts where I want them as I stretch.
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-2007, 02:13 PM   #10
Elliot Royce
Member Elliot Royce is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Inowa  KS
Posts: 922
this is turning out to be an interesting thread...

first, dragging yourself down to the floor with a computer cable is not how you're going to get more flexible. Part of the reason you're stiff is probably because your body reflects your personality -- driven (like me, I confess): "I'm going to whip these hamstrings into shape if it's the last thing I do"). Relax, breath, let your weight pull you down. You're probably so tense in other muscles that there's no way you can relax your hamstrings. Gravity will pull your head to the floor, let your breath go out.

Second, there's a technique (PNP?) where you use the strap to gently tension your leg, then you resist against it as much as you can for 8-10 seconds, then you relax and you'll find that you've fooled the muscle into a fair greater stretch. This can also be done with a partner pushing against your leg while you resist. Here you can push as hard as you like, but then relax and just let the leg come back. You should gain up to an inch of additional stretch from just doing this.

Also, I'm sure hip flexors are part of it. From my hip operations and hockey, I have flexors like cables. You can see what looks like a cable going across the top of my leg into the groin. So yes, you should stretch those.

finally, you really need to chill out. I've gotten maybe 1-2 inches of additional stretch over about 6 months. Now I don't stretch as much as I could but you're not made of rubber. It's going to take a long time.
  Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
How sweating made me flexible Jason Billows Testimonials 1 03-28-2006 03:36 PM


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 03:36 AM.


CrossFit is a registered trademark of CrossFit Inc.