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Hamstring Stretching During Sleep


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#1 Davo

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 07:30 PM

When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, running speed is a very simple thing. It's your stride length times the speed of your turnover (i.e. cadence).
As an older runner I am very interested in what actually makes us slower as we grow older. Such vague phrases as "diminished vigour" is not good enough. I read an article some time ago by a scientist who said that older runners slow down their cadence a bit, but not as much as we might think. What really slows us down as we age is our diminishing stride length. You can see this in old people, even when walking, who barely seem to cover half a metre with every stride.
Therefore, to keep up our speed, we need to pay attention to our stride length - whilst being aware of the dangers of overstriding, of course.
And what's the best way to lengthen your stride? It's obvious that the longer your legs are, the longer your stride will be. Unfortunately we can't change the length of our legs: but we can make a determined effort to constantly stretch our hamstrings. And longer, stretched hamstrings will lead to a longer stride.
Now I do stretching exercises regularly, but really it's only for a few minutes per day, which is nowhere near enough to gain the sort of results I'm thinking of. This set me to thinking that if I could devise some way to stretch my hamstrings for great periods of time it would be very beneficial. Thus I thought that if I could set up some sort of pulley system that would stretch my legs while I'm asleep, that would do the trick.
I had a slipped disc in 1983 and was in traction for ten days, the idea being that it would stretch my spine and allow the disc to slip back again. It worked and I fully recovered.
So if I could set up a weighted system at the bottom of my bed and strap my ankles into it every night, it would stretch my hamstrings continually throughout the night, thus allowing me to take longer strides in my running.
What the old trouble 'n' strife would say about me coming such capers - I prefer not to think about. She might think it's kinky.....
But anyway, seriously, what do you think? Is it a feasible idea? Or am I talking nonsense?

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#2 Bellthorpe

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 07:43 PM

Davo, you and I have discussed this before. See this post.

My views are expressed better in this post.


#3 MrsWombat

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 07:48 PM

View PostDavo, on Apr 23 2008, 07:30 PM, said:

So if I could set up a weighted system at the bottom of my bed and strap my ankles into it every night, it would stretch my hamstrings continually throughout the night, thus allowing me to take longer strides in my running.

Im fairly certian that you just invented "the rack!".  Now this being an invention of a runner to prolong his ability to run great fast distances might not actually assist with the physical aspect but OMG its an insight into the mental capacity of the insanity of the runner.  That one would actually contemplate a device that before today was only contemplated when associated with the word "torture" shows insight in to the workings of a running mind.

Ive said it before and Ill say it again us runners are all certifiable.... but ever so nice   :LOL:

Mrs Wombat

Edited by MrsWombat, 23 April 2008 - 07:49 PM.


#4 Bellthorpe

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 07:51 PM

Speaking of power and endurance, I hope it's only his hamstring he plans to stretch with this bedroom device!


#5 MizukiNoguchi

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 08:38 PM

Sleep in the prone position with something under your hips.

#6 Phoenix

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 08:41 PM

:LOL: I think 5 minutes of stretching once your hamstrings are warm, say 15 minutes into a run would do wonderfully.

And it would have the added bonus of not having you arrested if anyone saw that contraption in your bedroom.

#7 Martin D

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 09:17 PM

View PostDavo, on Apr 23 2008, 07:30 PM, said:

When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, running speed is a very simple thing. It's your stride length times the speed of your turnover (i.e. cadence).
As an older runner I am very interested in what actually makes us slower as we grow older. Such vague phrases as "diminished vigour" is not good enough. I read an article some time ago by a scientist who said that older runners slow down their cadence a bit, but not as much as we might think. What really slows us down as we age is our diminishing stride length.

The causality might be the wrong way round here, with the decrease in stride length being a symptom rather than cause. If older runners' power output decreases their speed is going to decrease (alas there does seem to be a general decrease with VO2max with age). Then either stride rate or length have to decrease. Lots of work suggests that a high stride rate is important for efficiency, so perhaps decreasing stride length is actually the best adaptation to the power reduction.

Martin  (still fighting against slowing down)

#8 southy

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 09:03 AM

I would think it would be much easier to work on maintaining your strength & power in your legs. I suspect the reduced stride length in older runners is due more to a loss of power & strength than a loss of flexibilty. I would focus on some lunges, squats, plyometrics and hill bounding & hill sprints.
A lot more practical than your torture device too.

#9 Peterhorse

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 10:29 AM

i think i've seen some of thing like that on a web site i went to accidentally once... but it was a young lady and she was dressed in black leather.

more stretching of the hammies while awake, keep working on the aerobic fitness, and maybe some plyometrics for the leg turnover and power etc...i reckon Davo - are you that short of time down in the Apple isle that you want to do stuff in your sleep mate?

hope you're enjoying life down there

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 11:23 AM

View PostPeterhorse, on Apr 24 2008, 10:29 AM, said:

i think i've seen some of thing like that on a web site i went to accidentally once...
Accidently went to the website with the ladies in leather?!   :LOL: Sure, sure PH we believe you...

#11 brizza

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 01:45 PM

the best way to strech your hammies while asleep would be to tie ropes to your ankles and put weights at the ends then hang the weights over the top of the bed not the bottom,why stop there?you could put one leg in the hammie strch position and hang the rope over the top of the bed and feed the rope under the bed and tie it to the other leg to strech the hip flexors at the same time ,alternate legs on a nightly basis,you could do it in side lying

#12 Rudolf

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 02:33 PM

You can sleep or relax or read a book or even watch the idiotbox, with the legs up against the wall at 90 Degrees,

which I also use to get blood away from ankles and achilles for few minutes...


However as said above it is a loss of strenght, explosive power etc which makes the stride short - there is no power in the pushoff - weak glutes, weak hammies (as oposed to short hammies), weak ankles, feet structure toes etc.


The biomechanics of weak legs and weak core will change to something like chirunning, when teh power is not used and it is just the gravity - the falling to the front and lifting the legs up in short strides which will make the move forward.

Chirunners do not hold world records and do not win medals, they run injury free.

One issue which could be important here :

if the hammies are weak, they get tired at whatever speed effort and tired muscles simply stiffen up - get shorter.

So if You feel You have shorter hammies, they are perhaps primarily weak and get simply overworked in daily running.

So focusing on strenghtening the whole functional chain (lower back, glutes, hams claves feet) could be more productive that making weak muscles longer.

Stronger muscles will loosen up naturaly as they do not have to push that hard.

Deadlift, good mornings, back leg rises, cobra, superman etc are the exercises to help

Edited by Rudolf, 24 April 2008 - 02:34 PM.


#13 Bellthorpe

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 02:55 PM

A good post Rudolf, plenty of good realistic advice there.


#14 chisholm

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 03:43 PM

Forgive the ignorance, but what is a 'good morning'... or a 'superman' etc...  

View PostRudolf, on Apr 24 2008, 02:33 PM, said:

Deadlift, good mornings, back leg rises, cobra, superman etc are the exercises to help

I have always had tight hamstrings even as a dancer in my younger days - I am quite flexible sideways but not forwards.  Having read these posts I'm now convinced that part of my slowness is because my stride is so short.  I realise of course, that as Rudolph said I need to focus on core, glutes, calves, (everywhere!), but am wondering if these stretches will help with my tight hammies.

#15 Rudolf

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 03:59 PM

View Postchisholm, on Apr 24 2008, 03:43 PM, said:

Forgive the ignorance, but what is a 'good morning'... or a 'superman' etc...  



I have always had tight hamstrings even as a dancer in my younger days - I am quite flexible sideways but not forwards.  Having read these posts I'm now convinced that part of my slowness is because my stride is so short.  I realise of course, that as Rudolph said I need to focus on core, glutes, calves, (everywhere!), but am wondering if these stretches will help with my tight hammies.


the exercises I mentioned are not stretches they are strenght building, muscle building and or muscle endurance building exercises.

You would be better off to get to some weightlifting, bodybuilding, powerlifting etc websites for exrecise description, photos, videos etc, but very briefly :

Good Mornings :

Stand straight, light BB (barbell) on Your shoulders - slightly bellow the shoulders on the back.

Slowly bending in the hip, and in the hip only, bend forward till the uper body is horizontal.

The back is straight, and is actualy rather arching backwards, so there is very little strain on the lower back if done properly.

on the way down and back on the way up, the work is done by hammies and glutes.

Lower back and calves, feet are working isometricaly as stabilizers.

This is exellent exercise often used by powerlifters as preparation for deadlifts.

Start with empty bar first till You learn teh technique

Superman is easy : get on teh flor horizontal on Your tummy. stretched the arm in front of You, and then lift at the same time both arms and both legs - the position looks like flying posture of the superman - the name.

Variation of this is to lift just 1 arm and teh oposite leg and than change.

#16 Davo

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 05:24 PM

All these exercises are fine, and I do most of them on and off - although the good morning sounds good, must try that Rudolf - but as I said in my initial post, they only take up a very small percentage of our time.
There's 8 hours going begging through the night there! I'm trying to think of ways to use it!

And Peterhorse.....that website with the young lady.....was that the one where she's wearing a red mask and black fishnet stockings, or is it the one where she's got a short but snappy whip, or....well, they all seem to be the same after you've viewed a few dozen, don't they.....

#17 Rudolf

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 06:47 PM

View PostDavo, on Apr 24 2008, 05:24 PM, said:

All these exercises are fine, and I do most of them on and off - although the good morning sounds good, must try that Rudolf - but as I said in my initial post, they only take up a very small percentage of our time.
There's 8 hours going begging through the night there! I'm trying to think of ways to use it!

the exrcises are strenght exercises so should only take a while, You need to keep increasing the weights - resistance and do the movements very slowly.

With superman if it gets easy (hoild for 30 secs), put wrist-ankle weights on etc.


If You intend passively to stretch the muscles, You can get to situation when the muscles are too long, tendons too flexible and joints too movable, this excess flexibility is actually counterproductive and can cause very weak links in the body in functional strenght.


If You can comfortably touch the floor with straight knees and hold it there for few seconds without pain, that should be enough as far as the flexibility of hammies and the related areas goes.

Unless You are studying the 3rd level of Kamasutra :LOL:

#18 MizukiNoguchi

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 07:25 PM

Nice work Rudolf. Deadlifts are a Gold Standard must do twice weekly exercises for distance runners in my opinion. Some great tips from Rudolf, except, I would recommend seated good mornings before trying them standing.

#19 Colsy

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 09:58 PM

The seated Leg Curl worked wonders for me in building up my hamstrings.

#20 Rudolf

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 07:01 AM

View Postcolsy, on Apr 24 2008, 09:58 PM, said:

The seated Leg Curl worked wonders for me in building up my hamstrings.


this is isolation exercise, build up teh hams but it is very questionable that this is doing much for sport performance as this exercise does not build teh whole chains togethere and teh neuromuscular pathways are therefore very different.

Hams needs to build with exercises where the hams works together with glutes and lower back as well as with calves and bottom of the feet


This is ismilar to idea of building calves in functional way for achiles - running and walking backwards running and walking backwards downhill...

It is kinda like a biceps - You can do bic curls and build the individual muscle, however when trying the chinups, pullups etc the muscle is not able to be used in the whole chain and needs to be retrained differently for complex body movements.

There is a whole ideology in strenght exrcise that You should onlyy use complex body movements and not isoloation exercises at all, if they are going to be functional for performance. Rememeber that bodybuilders build up muscles only to show them off, but they cant win weightlifting at olympics or win shotput, discuss hammer etc and not even powerlifting.
Some of their muscles are as usefull as Pamela's silicons.

Edited by Rudolf, 25 April 2008 - 07:05 AM.


#21 Phoenix

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 12:23 PM

Thanks Rudolf.

superman
Good mornings
Deadlift
Seated leg Curl

#22 Colsy

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 01:05 PM

Agree Rudolph, as I was doing a number of leg exercises at the same time, squats, lunges, leg press, leg extension. I guess I noticed the hamstrings the most because I had no visible hamstrings and now I very nice hammys.
I was doing a lot of bike riding at that time and it made a world of difference.

#23 fitnessfreak

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 05:54 PM

earl fee a 70 year old runner that broke many masters wr wrote a book with different sections about running etc and he wrote about this that as you grow older muscle is lost and stride length shortened so mate strength training would be the best way to go on this one and your only supposed to stretch a muscle for only 30seconds because stretching alone causes micro tears thats why over stretching often results in muscle tears due to stretching way to much haha and i doubt ud be able to sleep for one and ud have to warm up aswell :L LMAO
gOOd idea tho :LOL: cyaa
<< fitnessfreak >>

#24 Peterhorse

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 01:39 PM

View PostRudolf, on Apr 24 2008, 03:47 AM, said:

Unless You are studying the 3rd level of Kamasutra :LOL:
Never got past 2nd level, thanks for the tip.

Another exersie i was told to do to strengthen my hammies (arose form specific probelm with tendonosis with hamstring insertion point into buttock), was one the Sports GP called "Nordic Skier", mianly becasue that's the guy he saw doing it on a video...goes like this.

on your knees, with feet straight behind, and held by someone or hooked under bed/couch etc. to take your weight, the lean forward, keeping your body in a straight line all the way through from knee to nose. it is bascially the same idea as Rudolph's Good Morning and very hard. like all exercises, must do it slow and controlled and not push it, especially early on.

i can get about 10cm forward before my hammies cramp or burn. apparently the Nordic XC Skier can do it slowly all the way down, let his nose gently touch the floor then up again. WOW! (he does have a flat face so perhaps he wasn't always oable to do it).

another one i do when motivated is rolling the feet in, on the swiss ball. shoulders on teh ground, feet on the ball, body straight and do like a leg curl rolling the feet in under the backside. this one is is also good for core strength at the same time.

the latter is much easier, so much so i can do 'em in my sleep, so might be what you are after Davo  ;)  (just returning server mate,  B) )

#25 MizukiNoguchi

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 05:42 PM

PH said

Quote

on your knees, with feet straight behind, and held by someone or hooked under bed/couch etc. to take your weight, the lean forward, keeping your body in a straight line all the way through from knee to nose. it is bascially the same idea as Rudolph's Good Morning and very hard. like all exercises, must do it slow and controlled and not push it, especially early on.

Close, it's not a bad exercise but this exercise becomes too difficult and non specific to the insertion. Once you reach the point where your hammies become engaged, tilt forward just from the hips. When your back is parallel to the ground the exercise is complete, do not attempt the concentric return to the starting position. The best way to do this exercise is on the lat pulldown machine. Use a rope, face away (backwards to normal) from the machine, tuck your heels under the knee pads. The more weight you use the less pressure on the hammies, maybe start with 10-15kg's of support. Hold the rope over your shoulders against your chest, then perform the exercise as above. I still think deadlifts are more effective with less risk than any other hammy exercise for insertion rehab, regardless of 'opathy, 'itis or 'osis.

#26 Rudolf

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 09:14 PM

View PostPeterhorse, on Apr 26 2008, 01:39 PM, said:

Another exersie i was told to do to strengthen my hammies (arose form specific probelm with tendonosis with hamstring insertion point into buttock), was one the Sports GP called "Nordic Skier", mianly becasue that's the guy he saw doing it on a video...goes like this.

on your knees, with feet straight behind, and held by someone or hooked under bed/couch etc. to take your weight, the lean forward, keeping your body in a straight line all the way through from knee to nose. it is bascially the same idea as Rudolph's Good Morning and very hard. like all exercises, must do it slow and controlled and not push it, especially early on.

i can get about 10cm forward before my hammies cramp or burn. apparently the Nordic XC Skier can do it slowly all the way down, let his nose gently touch the floor then up again. WOW! (he does have a flat face so perhaps he wasn't always oable to do it).

I am also bit suspicious about this exercise, since as described there is no movement in teh hip, it should not realy work teh hams-glutes conection, seems to me it is more for a bottom part of hams-the knee inserts ?

Since teh knees are bent and calves and feet soles not engaged, this is not working the typical running chain of muscless,
so perhaps it can something for skiing but I am not sure how at this stage. Danger is also in putting pressure on the knee caps , thats the last thing You would wanna risk.

Exellent exercise for hams-glutes-lower back chain with active support of calves and feet is actually racewalking, advantage is that this is done in fast speed, kinda plyometric effect and can be done for a long time and also does the aerobic development job.

As I do the racewalking, my running gets better and as I run my racewalking gets better.

Today new 10k walk PB by 5 and 1/2 minutes and I did no walk training all week, but did lots of running.