During our day most of us perform repetitive motions, or sit in static positions. By itself this can can cause problems in the body. Adding to the issue, is when we then force our body to move. Usually we move with good intentions, to loose weight, keep in shape or reduce stress for example. However, the spine and pelvis sometimes get caught in the middle of a tug of war between the hamstrings and hip flexors.
Why? First, let’s look at sitting. The Hamstrings are in a shortened position due to flexion of the knee. Your Psoas (hip flexor) is also in a shorten position because of flexion in the hip. The Rectus Femoris (hip flexor) because it crosses two joints, the pelvis and knee can tug at the pelvis, as well as place compression on the knee. Opposing forces on both sides of the body.
Now let’s look at the same person who was sitting Monday-Friday without reversing the shortened muscles throughout the week. It is Saturday morning, and with good purpose they decide to run. These shorten muscles can be a problem, especially if this individual wishes to lengthen their stride, or increase their pace. Now during every impacting step the spine and pelvis are yanked from the front and then the back, and the opposite with the other leg. No wonder there are so many low back and knee injuries.
One way to prevent this is to reverse the static sitting throughout the day, by getting up and walking at least every hour. Also, you can add stretches throughout the day if this is available to you. If you do not feel comfortable at work stretching in your clothes. Stretch when you arrive home, or before you go to bed.
Here are some stretches for the front and the back:
Hamstrings: Important tips: Keep both legs engaged (squeeze the muscle on the front of the thigh). It does not matter how high you lift your leg, form is more important. You should not feel numbness or pain in your calf. If you do, lower your leg. You should feel the stretch in the back of the leg above the knee.
.Psoas: Important tips: Keep your abdominal muscles engaged and avoid arching through your back. You should feel the stretch in deep in your front hip on the kneeling leg. You can keep both arms on your hips, or for an additional stretch lift one arm.
As with any exercise, if you feel pain stop. For more about the hip flexors, click the link for an old post.
If you have pain running, or sitting it is best to seek out a Health Care Provider.