I’ve always been plagued by tight hips and hamstrings and it’s held me back in everything from Taekwon-Do to various aches and pains in my lower back.
The funny thing was, every time I got on a dedicated stretching routine, things got worse. I actually became tighter and my muscles were all the more susceptible to pulls and strains. This went on for years until I finally learned that just stretching was a very limited, and ineffective way to build that muscular resilience I was after.
The secret is the body doesn’t just allow a muscle to stretch through a range of motion without some pretty strict fail safes. Your nervous system needs to also have control and strength through that range of motion to allow it to happen in the first place. This is why a lot of your tight muscles feel restricted. It’s not due to a lack of stretching the muscle, but the lack of control and strength in that range that is the limiting factor.
This is why I’m a big fan of doing “strength stretching” where a stretch also requires a mix of strength and stability to complete the movement. That way you cover all three of your bases and ensure you have the complete package.
This exercise is a classic example of a hamstring strength stretch. It requires equal parts strength, flexibility and control.