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hamstring and calf stretches

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
As some of you may know I tore my calf muscle last year after a head over the tips type of pile up and I have no desire to repeat this come winter. While I know of methods to stretch those muscles my attempts have not met with any real success and I find myself getting tighter and tighter with time. I'm 42 and have had this problem since childhood. Anyone out there with info on what worked for them or what the secret to success is? I'd appreciate any info on this, thanks! skidoc [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #2 of 9
The methodologies of achieving flexibility are being re-evaluated. Although stsatic stretch may work for some people, others may find thata passive stretch of a cold muscle will have only minimal benefits.

A few methods may be helpful. Active warm up of the muscle to be stretched can be effective. In the case of the hamstrings, simply taking the leg from a bent to atstraight position a few times, prior to holding the stretch, will create some warmth in the muscle, which is necessary for optimal flexibility.

Foam rollers are hot nowadays. The technique is called self myofascial release. Check this out;

The theory behind SMR, is that it works with the fascial system of the body. By applying force to a knot or adhesion in the muscle, the collagenous fibers which caused the adhesion are set into an alignment which is straighter in relationship to the muscle or fascia. Its important to find the tender spot, and hold the roller in position for about 20 seconds.

Another excellent technique is PNF, proprioceptive neuromuscular fascillitation. Normally, this is done with a partner. But you can use a towel or a band around your foot. Lie prone. Hold the towel or band in a stable position. Attempt to press your heel to the floor. the, relax the leg and GENTLY pull it towards you.

To learn more, come to the epicski academy in Utah! [img]graemlins/angel.gif[/img]
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Lisamarie, thankyou for the info on the stretches. I will definitely look into the roller thing. Thanks again, skidoc
post #4 of 9
Ski Doc

Same age so I can relate. My program is to warm up on a bike for about 15 mins in my age group mid heartrate zone then use gentle static stretches followed by some towel assisted stretching. Hold all stretches for 20 to 30 sec. Then into my gym routine. After my routine I stretch again. So probably for every gym visit I stretch for about 15 mins.

The key I think is to be consistent with the stretching i.e. stretch everyday EVEN if you miss a few gym sessions.

All those lovely beaches in your neck of the woods can be helpful also. Find the softest sand and go walking.

I found after last winter my legs "seized" up like never before. I was skiing everyday one minute and then out injured the next and neglected to stretch. Man those calves where tight by the time I arrived home. After two months of "body rest" I found that getting movement back into the legs was a dedicated process.

Happy stretching

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Oz, thanks for the advice! I suspect you hit it on the nose, consistency has to be maintained if I expect anything. I'm going to try to remember the intense pain and rehab every time I think it's too late or I'm too busy to stretch. Like most people I'm often better at giving advice than following it! Thanks again. skidoc
post #6 of 9
How about Yoga? If you can keep at it, not only is it good for flexibility/stretching, but yoga offers other benefits.
post #7 of 9
Hey Skidoc!

First off, give us an update. Is your flexibility improving? How ya feelin'.

In addition to that suggested above, you may also find a sports massage beneficial. Back in my days, there were times when the legs were so hammered from training that they became very tight and this would lead all sorts of minor injury. A serious deep tissue massage by someone who knew what they were doing ALWAYS worked for me and, with appologies to LM [img]smile.gif[/img] , will likely help you out better than rollers.

LM is correct in that some folk have tight enough muscles such that they may prove recalcitrant to the methods we describe here.
You will know; don't waste your time. Try something else.

Keep at it Skidoc and strive for balance.
post #8 of 9
No apologies needed, Badrat! Rollers work on a similar principle to massage. The only difference is that its not as expensive to do it on a daily basis! [img]smile.gif[/img]

One more thing. Lets look at one of the reasons why your hamstrings and calfs may be tight. Often, this problem is related to an anterior pelvic tilt.Sometimes when postural problems are corrected the tightness goes away.

To over simplify: Anterior pelvic tilt causes tight hip flexors. This causes something called reciprocal inhibition. Tight flexors= weak glutes. So your hamstrings will have to overwork to compensate.
post #9 of 9
I always find that a vigorous self-massage and deep probing of the "seams" of my calves helped greatly in not only warming the muscle deeply, but also it kind of peels the tension out of my calves and "opens" them up. This is effective for me before or even more so during the actual stretching of the calf. A key to getting the most out of this is to be sure your muscle is as relaxed and facile as possible during both the massage itself and the stretch as well, the more relaxed it stays, the less that antagonistic protective reflex that gets in the way of stretchng progress seems to crop up and negate all the work you've done.

Calves are notoriously stubborn muscles to stretch and as Oz stated before, consistency is your key to success, especially as we age(I'm 45). As well as patience and the realization that your progress will likely be measured in small increments. So don't expect speedy results, especially at first. Massage and stretching while heating the muscle deeply(hot water immersion((bath tub/hot tub))) can also help release spasms and tension prior to or post workout.

Standing on the balls of your feet on a block of wood that is just high enough to give you a gentle stretch when you let your heels gently drop to the ground for a short spell may work. As flexibility improves, gradually thicken the block.

Lastly, don't forget to give your feet and hamstrings attention as well, as both of them can contribute to calf tension and tightness. Holding tension in your feet can be awful for your calves and lower legs in general. My three cents, good luck and keep at it, no matter what.


[ October 23, 2002, 12:31 AM: Message edited by: joel ]
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