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Massage Today
September, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 09

Taking Care of Your Hamstrings

By Aaron L. Mattes, MS, RKT, LMT

Massage therapists spend many hours bent over patients helping them to relax and alleviate their aches and pains. In doing so, we put untold stress upon our bodies, namely our backs and hamstrings.

Because of this, massage therapists need to learn how to take care of their bodies to prevent any overuse injuries.

One area of the body that takes the brunt of the abuse is the low back. The low back is a complex area of the body because it encompasses many different areas to keep it healthy. In order to have a healthy back, the hamstrings, quadriceps, hip rotators and low back must be flexible. It's also important to maintain strong abdominal muscles to keep the core of the body strong. In this article, we'll discuss the hamstrings.

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

The first stretch is the bent knee hamstring stretch. (Images 1A, 1B) This is an especially good stretch for the distal hamstrings (above the insertion). The muscles stretched will include the semi-tendinosus, semi-membranosus and biceps femoris. From a supine position, place one hand under your knee or in front of the active knee to help maintain a flexed hip. Flex the uninvolved leg, especially if you have a back problem. Contract the quadriceps and extend the knee (of the leg to be stretched) slowly to full extension. Do not flex the hip any closer to the chest unless your knee can extend completely. As the quadriceps continue to move the leg, gently assist with a resistance band holding the stretch for a maximum of two seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat eight to 10 times.

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

The second stretch we are going to do will be the straight-leg hamstring stretch. (Images 2A, 2B) The muscles this will stretch will include the proximal end and belly of the hamstrings, specifically the semi-tendinosus, semi-membranosus and biceps femoris. From a supine position, flex the uninvolved leg, lock the knee (of the leg to be stretched) and slowly lift the leg using the quadriceps. Give gentle assistance with a resistance band at the end of movement as the quadriceps continue to move the leg. You want to hold the stretch for a maximum of two seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat this exercise eight to 10 times per leg.

These two stretches are great to help improve the flexibility of the hamstrings and will help alleviate stress and strain put on the low back while working with patients.


The Self-Care Wellness Team

For more information visit www.thera-bandacademy.com.

 - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark


Aaron Mattes received his MS from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1972, with special emphasis in kinesiology and kinesiotherapy. He has spent more than 250,000 hours in sports participation, sports and health instruction, rehabilitation, athletic training, adapted physical education, sports medicine, training and prevention programs.

 

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