Q: Hey Mr. Defranco, I’m not sure you will ever read this but i figured it was worth a shot. I missed the entire second half of my senior soccer season with a pulled hamstring, and now i’m getting ready for college soccer. My hamstring finally feels pretty good but i have always had issues with hamstring tightness and pulls during my career and i don’t know why?? I spend lots of time doing extra stretching for my hamstrings because I know how important they are for speed and explosiveness, and I spend plenty of time warming up before workouts and games. One of my teammates even has your amped warmup manual and we have been doing the soccer warmup before we work on drills and the gym warmup before strength training. This all leads to my question: the other day I was talking to my high school soccer coach about my hamstring issues and I told him how im really focussing on spending extra time stretching them when i’m home and on my off days. He told me that I shouldn’t be static stretching and that this type of stretching has probably caused my hamstring pulls. So I figured i should ask you what you think. Can static stretching really have caused my problems?? If so, what else can I do to prevent hamstring pulls? Do you have any new stretches or advice you can share. Sorry for such a long email as i know your a busy man but I really want to have a successful college career. If you can take the time to give me ANY advice I would be forever grateful!! Thank you sir. Steve H.
I’m glad you sent me this question. Although – I must admit – I almost did skip over it because it is a little long-winded 🙂 But, your question/problem is very timely so I wanted to address it. I will first address the “fear” of static stretching and the MYTH that static stretching causes muscle pulls and tears. Here we go…
The “fear” of static stretching has really hit its peak due to a study that gained popularity not too long ago. This study “proved” static stretching “weakens muscles” and, in turn, would contribute to muscle pulls and tears if performed before sprinting, lifting or other forms of intense physical activity. As my friend Alwyn Cosgrove always points out; the fitness industry is notorious for either UNDER-reacting or OVER-reacting to studies, exercises, etc., before they take the time to “dig deeper” into the topic. In other words, people will either completely stop doing something (like static stretching), or OVER-use something (like kettlebells); there’s no “middle road” with most people in this industry! In this case, as soon as people heard that static stretching can “weaken muscles and cause pulls”, they stopped static stretching all-together! We are now at the point where if you’re seen static stretching, you’re considered “behind the times” or just plain dumb in the eyes of “fitness professionals”!
Here’s my take on this ordeal…
The one study that I read regarding static stretching “weakening” muscles required people to hold some of the stretches for up to 5 MINUTES! I definitely agree that holding a stretch for that long would NOT be optimal before running a 40-yard dash or partcipating in any sporting event. I’m an advocate of having your warm-up be “specific” to your workout/event. But, with that being said, whenever I put my athletes through a “dynamic” warm-up, I always catch them doing some extra static stretching after the warm-up. I realized that many athletes (as well as myself) just “feel” better when they perform some static stretching before they start their workout. At this point, I’ve observed/experimented with my athletes for almost 15 years (and I’ve personally been static stretching for 25 years); Experience has proven to me that a few static stretches (held for 5-15 seconds each) have no negative effects on performance what-so-ever! So if it makes them feel better, I’m cool with it.
Hopefully, you now realize that static stretching isn’t “bad”. If you feel better throwing in some static stretches into your warm-up, here’s how I suggest you do it: Start by performing some general movements to increase your core temperature. Then, throw in some of your favorite stretches. Hold each stretch for just 5-15 seconds. Always conclude your warm-up with exercise(s) that “excite” the CNS (jumping, hopping, throws, power skips, box jumps, etc). This will “wake you up” and prepare you for the task at hand, aka, your workout/event.
This brings me to the second part of your question. You asked me if I had any “new stretches or advice I can share” regarding your hamstring problems. Obviously, without evaluating you or knowing you, I can’t provide any real specific advice. But, you did say something that caught my attention. In your question, you mentioned to me (twice) how you always “spend extra time” stretching your hamstrings. I’ve always noticed that the hamstrings are the most commonly stretched muscle (for people who actually take the time to even stretch). Whenever I think of someone “stretching”, the picture that pops in my head is some form of hamstring stretch. If you really have “focussed” most of your stretching on your hamstrings – yet you pull them a lot – I’m going to go out on a limb and say your hips may be the cause of your hamstring problems. In order to fix your “problem” (hamstrings), I think you need to try focussing on your “hip” flexibility. When I say “hips”, I’m referring to your glutes, hip rotators, hip flexors and adductors (long & short). The reason I’m telling you to do this is because tight hip musculature pull the pelvis anteriorly. It is very common for athletes (and the general population) to have an anterior pelvic tilt. This “tilt” causes a constant “pull” on the hamstrings. When your hamstrings are constantly under tension, guess what happens when you go to run, jump or cut? Yup, you guessed it…that muscle is much more likely to tear and roll up your leg like a lamp shade!! You can try stretching your hamstrings until your blue in the face – if your hamstring tension is caused from tight hips – stretching the hamstrings directly aint gonna do sh*t!
So here’s what you’re going to do – at least once a day (after your workout, while watching TV, or before bed, etc.) – you’re going to perform the four stretches I’ve listed below. You’ll notice that none of them are hamstring stretches, yet I guarantee they’ll make your hamstrings (and your low back) feel healthier!
Joe D’s Hamstring-Healin’ Static Stretch Routine!
*For more in-depth information on stretching, warming up and feeling better, check out www.AmpedWarmup.com to learn about the most comprehensive warm-up system ever created!!
Speaking of AMPED, I have BIG News!!!
Due to the overwhelming amount of feedback and interest we’ve received since releasing AMPED, we thought it was a no-brainer to put together an AMPED Seminar Series™!
The Amped Seminar Series™ will “bridge the gap” from reading the manual & watching the DVD – to actually being in the trenches and learning it first-hand…live and in-person! This will be an exclusive seminar that will be limited to 20 people. We are capping this seminar at 20 people in order to make sure every participant gets their specific questions answered and everyone gets personalized instruction during the training portion of the seminar.
When: Sunday, June 26th 2011
Location: DeFranco’s Gym (If you haven’t been to our new, 5000sq. ft. location, this is your opportunity!)
9:00am – 12:00pm: The AMPED System™ – LECTURE TOPICS WILL INCLUDE…
-The evolution of the warm-up
-REAL Athletes/REAL Results: For the first time, I will reveal actual warm-ups & special exercises used by some of my “high-profile” clients to return from injuries in record time and break PR’s!
-Common warm-up mistakes YOU may be making without knowing it
-How to improve fluidity of your warm-up movements
-How to activate muscles that have been “shut down/inhibited” for years
-Rehabbing current injuries & preventing new ones
-Being “realistic” – developing different warm-ups for different athletes in different situations
-How to structure an athletes warm-up to improve performance immediately
…and much, much more!
12:00pm-12:30pm: LUNCH (Compliments of Muscle Maker Grill)
12:30-3:00: TEAM WORKOUT! (Come prepared to train! *FYI, if the NFL lockout hasn’t been lifted, expect to see some of our NFL stars during this workout!)
What are you waiting for? If you want to attend this seminar, you must ACT NOW! Once the 20 spots are filled, registration will shut down – NO EXCEPTIONS! Our last two seminars SOLD OUT within 24 hours, so those who hesitate will surely miss out. If you’re serious about attending, click on the link below. This is the link to the official seminar page and it’s the ONLY place to sign up for this seminar!
All the info you need is provided once you click the link below. Please DON’T call the gym or email us looking for deals or hand-outs…and definitely don’t wait for the seminar to be sold out, then call us and beg us to make an exception and let you in because it’s NOT happening! Do YOU wanna be 1 of the 20 people attending this KICK-ASS seminar?! If so, click the below link NOW…
This seminar is going to kick ass!
…And the following week, my twins are due…that should kick ass, too 🙂