Can you spare 9 minutes a week?
Thursday, 4 October 2012
A hamstring study proves it doesn’t take much to improve your flexibility
By Scott Douglas
A regular routine of active stretching increases hamstring flexibility, regardless of one's flexibility before starting the routine, according to a study published in the journal Physical Therapy In Sport.
Researchers at the University of Murcia in Spain tested the hamstring flexibility of 138 men via a straight leg raise – the men stood on one leg and raised the other leg as high as they could while keeping it straight. The men who could raise their leg to at least an 80-degree angle were said to have normal hamstring flexibility. Those who could not attain an 80-degree angle were said to have limited hamstring flexibility. (Yes, at this point you should stop reading and see how you do on the test.)
Both groups were then split into two smaller groups – those who did active stretching three times a week for 12 weeks, and those who did no flexibility work. The hamstring stretch routine consisted of three minutes of work per session; in other words, nine minutes of stretching per week, or not a huge investment of time.
After the 12 weeks, both groups of stretchers significantly improved their hamstring flexibility, and there was no difference in the improvement between groups; those with limited flexibility at the start improved by as much as those with "normal" flexibility. This finding is important because, despite some runners' claims that they're "naturally tight," it shows that everyone can improve this key aspect of good running form with a manageable amount of regular work.
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