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A Targeted Approach to Hamstring Stretching

The hamstrings are made up of four muscles.  Depending on the way we stand and move, one or more of these muscles can become overly tight.  In a standard hamstring stretch, this one particularly tight hamstring muscle might not get the attention it needs because all four muscles will share the stretch.  The stretches below will show you how to isolate the stretch on each group, and shift the hamstring stretch further away from the knee.

THE HAMSTRING SQUAD
The four muscles of the hamstrings involves the bicep femoris (short head), bicep femoris (long head), semimembranosus and semitendinosus.  The bicep femoris group is located laterally while the semi's are located medially.  Knowing the anatomy and general location of the muscles is key to knowing whether you've focused the stretch where it matters.

HAMSTRING STRETCH OVERVIEW (VIDEO)
We'll get more specific below, but in the meantime, here's a brief rundown of the stretches.  Notice how the foot is positioned relative…

Ratings of Perceived Activation (RPA Scale)

I would like to introduce my method for measuring muscle activation, a Ratings of Perceived Activation Scale.  I developed this chart to help manage problematic areas that need to be addressed.  It also helps my clients provide feedback regarding their ability to consciously activate certain muscle groups.


By assigning a number to a client's muscle activation, a map of their muscle activation can be made. This makes it easier to focus on establishing muscle activation in areas that need it the most.

Example Client:  Cyclist complaining of quadricep fatigue, difficulty breathing, knee and lower back pain. RPA Map: Quadriceps: 10 Gluteus Maximus: 3 Rectus Abdominis: 10 Pectoralis Major: 8Middle trap/ Rhomboid: 4Back extensors: 5 A quad dominant pedal stroke stresses the patellar tendon.  By working on muscle activation protocols to increase glute activation specifically for the bike, knee pain diminishes.  Increasing back extensor activation helps the cyclist maintain an anterior pe…