Hamstrung

By Kelly Starrett

In Medical/Injuries

July 01, 2007

PDF Article

Stretching sucks. It does. There, it's been said. You can't brag about your best stretching time, you don't get to write your stretch PR on the wall, and there is no immediate "Fran"-like gratification that you are really tough. And despite the fact that flexibility is one of the ten CrossFit pillars of complete, well-balanced fitness, increasing flexibility potential remains the ungreased squeaky wheel of most athletes' training programming. According to the ten general physical skills list, flexibility is allegedly as important as power or strength. So why don't we take it more seriously? Because, typically, we simply fail to frame flexibility in terms that are important to us: increasing performance.

Stop kidding yourself. Lacking flexibility in crucial areas has a crushing impact on your athletic abilities; to say nothing of the host of pains and problems that inflexibility predisposes you to. If you know you have tight hips, calves, hamstrings, quads, thoracic spine, or shoulders and aren't actively, aggressively striving to fix them, then you must be afraid of having a bigger squat, faster rowing splits, or a more explosive second pull. Or, you must be very lazy. Because if you are tight and a CrossFitter, you are missing a huge opportunity to get better, stronger and faster. Simply put, not stretching is like not flossing, and the results are not pretty. There are many areas of restriction in the typical athlete, but it makes sense to begin a discussion about flexibility and performance at perhaps the most commonly neglected and profoundly underaddressed area of the body, the hamstrings. The goals of this article are to help you understand how hamstring restriction impedes performance and function, learn to identify tight hamstrings with a few simple assessment tools, and above all, know how to address the problem.

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3 Comments on “Hamstrung”

1

Adam Kayce wrote …

Excellent article, Kelly.

I pulled, well, just about everything back there a month ago doing heavy deadlifts... I knew my hamstring flexibility needed help, but I suppose I was a bit lazy on chasing it down. I did the basics, but no more — and now I'm paying for it.

Kelly does a great job of laying out the performance-related reasons why you should be stretching, so I'll add on a little more warning: if you don't, forget about performance. Imagine not being able to train at all for a month. Or two. Or three.

If that doesn't make you shake in your boots, then you've already dealt with rehabbing a hamstring. So if you're one of those young folk who think you're immune to problems, get real. Read this pdf and listen to what the man says. (Am I trying to put the fear of god into you? You bet I am!)

Besides, Kelly's a great writer; it's an entertaining read. How can you ask for more than that, eh?

2

wrote …

Thank you Dr. Kelly Starrett,

And thanks to The CrossFit Journal for the reprint on this elegant article.

Now I know why, after all these years, I still can't get down into a deep squat and if I do plop down on the low plyo box, I can't get up. So simple--I'm HAMSTRUNG pure and simple and it has degraded all other moves too! I've already started the PNF and rehab of my hamstrings.

Thanks again, Kelly. I've heard you lecture, but seeing it in writing hits home and is a valued gift.

3

wrote …

When it comes to developing stability and flexibility, Kelly Starrett is one of the most effective communicators I have ever come across. I love his style, both in print and in the lectures posted as videos. As a former (not very good) rower and current (rather slow) student of the Olympic lifts, I am only now beginning to realise the extent to which my lack of flexibility has inhibited my performance. I only wish that, in my earlier days, I had had a coach as knowledgeable, perceptive and convincing as Dr. Starrett. A terrific article.

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