Oh! Those Hamstrings

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Recommended to Better Understand This Topic:

Bob Cooley explaining the significance of stretching your hamstrings and also demonstrating how to get started.

Physical

Anatomy and Function of the 3 Hamstrings, Hip/Knee/Ankle Joint Compression/Suspension and Concomitant Health of the Hamstrings, How To Start Stretching Your Hamstrings, Hamstrings and Meridian/Type Associations

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Transcript

(Revised and Edited For Easier Readability and Additional Clarity)

Oh, those hamstrings! The big joke that everybody has about flexibility training is that it doesn't matter what's inflexible on your body, it's those hamstrings that you need to change. So there are three hamstrings on the back of your leg and they all start at the bottom of your pelvis. Two of them attach to your lower leg, and one attaches here. So you have what's called your medial hamstring, then you have your central hamstring, and then you have your lateral hamstring. Those three hamstrings have three functions. When they contract, they bend your lower leg up towards you, they lift your thigh back behind you, and they pull the back of your pelvis down into extension. So that's the three actions when all three of those hamstrings contract. Except, they also do different things because of how they attach. Your medial hamstring on the inside of your leg, when it's flexible, makes your pelvis extend back and gives you suspension at your hip joint. The central hamstring, when it's flexible, actually gives you suspension at your knee. And your lateral hamstring gives you suspension in your lower back, ankle and feet. So depending on what part of your body needs the most help, you stretch that particular hamstring.

 

The most unusual thing I found out about flexibility training over the years is that a person's lateral hamstring, regardless of what age they are or what country they're from or any of their spiritual preferences or any groups they're involved in, the lateral hamstring carries the most dense fascia and scar tissue. So, if you're going to stretch a hamstring, that's the one to really stretch.

 

There are very simple ways to initially introduce yourself to stretching your hamstrings. To do your medial hamstring, you very simply just have your legs wide with your legs turned inside and as you curl your head down and forward, it'll end up stretching these muscles on the inside of your legs. So, you start by curling your head down and you're going find all these muscles contracting as you go forward. And as you do that, these muscles will contract and stretch. And then they'll strengthen as you pull yourself back up. If you want to do your central hamstrings, on the back of your legs, then you have to have your feet the width of your pelvis. You forward bend and curl your head in while leaving all of these muscles on the backside of you body contracting so they get a stretch. And then when you stand back up, that action will strengthen the muscles you were just stretching. And when you want to do your lateral hamstring, you just have your legs hip-width apart, one leg in front of the other, and then you curl your head down and forward bend and feel these muscles with your hands. You'll get a better stretch if you feel the muscle you're targeting with your hand. And then, when you come back up, that strengthens those muscle groups you were just stretching.

 

Now, the hamstrings have different functions in what they do. Your lateral hamstring, when it contracts, makes you jump. Your central hamstring gives you twisting movements where your hips go one way and your shoulder girdle goes the other way and your medial hamstring gives you the ability to back up and walk backwards. So when they contract, they produce different movements. Your medial hamstring is associated with the health of your pancreas and your spleen. Your central hamstring is associated with your brain central nervous system. And your lateral hamstring is associated with your bladder. In terms of tissues, your medial hamstring is associated with the fascia of your body. The central hamstring is associated with the health of your central nervous system and nervous tissue. And your lateral hamstring, with the health of your bones. Please remember, inside of your bones is where you produce natural anti-cancer agents called interferons. So these different structures are really important because of how they affect you, not just biomechanically, but physiologically in your body.

 

Your medial hamstring is associated with becoming more peaceful and communicative. Your central hamstring is associated with becoming more trusting and responsible. And your lateral hamstring is associated with being more honest, promotional and hopeful. So there's psychological advantages to stretching these as well. So I just demonstrated, very quickly, how to stretch the three hamstrings. You would start stretching the medial first by bending forward with the legs wide and feet turned in. Then when you would have your feet close together, curling down and forward, to stretch your central hamstring. And then you put one leg in front of the other to do your lateral hamstring. There's a lot of other positions to stretch your hamstrings in. You can find that on our webpage, The Genius of Flexibility. And do these first and feel them and then you could do more complicated ones that will give you even a better stretch. Oh, those hamstrings! Have a great time.