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Running myths and misconceptions exposed!

Unlike most superheroes (we're not superheroes), we do not possess any superpowers (unless irony and satire is a superpower!). We make use (to the best that we can) of intellect, detective skills, science and technology (3D) physical prowess (and photoshop) to help rid the city of misconceptions to help bring the truth to the people! These days, it's really tricky for anyone to follow advice in magazines or forums as R&D (research and development) in the past 2 years (maybe?) has gone supernova in the world of biomechanics causing much of the material given 2 years ago to appear to be dated and somewhat incorrect. At StrideUK, our intention is to expose certain running related assumptions (often anatomy related) that just may not hold water in todays understanding of movement. You decide!


Tight Hamstrings (running misconception no 175)

Tight Hamstrings

On too many occassions we get runners complaining of 'tight hamstrings' often quoting "no matter how much I stretch them, It simply doesn't help". And despite it 'feeling' that you have tight hamstrings, we'd go as far to suggest that runners very rarely have tight hamstrings, despite what feedback your brain is giving you.
Here's the Science: On this planet... our bodies are constantly pushing up against gravity. The muscle groups that oppose gravity are often called Postural muscles as together these muscles maintain an upright, balanced posture. These muscles include your Glutes (backside), Quads (front thighs), Erector spinae (lower back muscles) and even the Soleus muscles (calves). Over time, these 'antigravity' muscles evolve in size and strength based on a life time of anti-gravitational endurance. In running, greater forces are placed on these muscles as your body hops from one leg to the other (creating greater downforce). Over time it's common for these muscles to become disportionate in comparison to their opposing muscles (life is so much easier for the muscles that go with the flow!). And if you've managed to digest that... read on!

Anterior tilt

Think about your pelvis as a ‘see saw’ but stabilised by two opposing muscle groups, The Quads (the anti gravity postural muscle crew) and the Hamstrings (the 'Pro' Gravity muscles). Theoretically, these muscles should help stabilise the pelvis by delivering equal amounts of tension in line with the spine. As downforce becomes greater the minute we hop from one leg to the other, the Quads (the anti gravity postural muscle crew) have to cope with this increase of demand which can make them the dominating of the two muscle groups. Continuous loading of the Quads can cause the pelvis to pull down at the front creating an 'anterior pelvic tilt'. As a result of this, the Hamstings (being weaker) become  s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d due to the pelvis drop. This can create a 'feeling' that they are tight where as in most cases the Hamstrings are ‘Taut’ (stretched, like the strings of a Guitar!) As a result of an anterior pelvic tilt, symptoms often include pain up into the hamstring origin (base of glute) and also feeling compression in the lower back. 
To summarise: We believe it is important to know whether your Hamstrings are tight or taut. After all, treatment outcome is only likely to be successful if we know what's actually happening to them. Newton's Third law - For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Further more, if you add Newtons First law 'Cause and effect' as a practical example to his 3rd Law of action and reaction, this is likely to bring you one step closer to understanding the majority of pain and discomfort we experience. 


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