This is Part 6 in the Egoscue and Running Injuries blog series.
One of the interesting things about dealing with chronic running injuries is that aches and pains can become so common that you can forget that you have a problem.
For example, I have long known that my hamstrings are incredibly tight. However, due to compensation from my lower back and quad muscles, the tightness of my hamstrings has been masked for a long time.
Instead of feeling the hamstring tightness, I feel pain in my lower back muscles which are forced to take over for the inflexible and weak hamstrings.
My hamstrings have been able to hide out for a long time. Fortunately, thanks to the last e-cise menu from Matt, the path to fully functioning hammies has begun.
The Egoscue Runner’s Stretch
The e-cise that really woke up my hamstrings was the Runner’s Stretch. At first glance, this stretch doesn’t look that bad:
The goal is to kneel down with your front foot touching your back knee . Curl your back leg toes under. With your hands on each side of your font foot, stand up while keeping your knees straight.
Now for the hard part: Roll your hips forward to place an arch in your low back. Hold for one minute.
Let me tell you something. There is no WAY I could do what that woman in the picture is doing. It is impossible for me to straighten my legs while my hands are still on the ground.
In order to get my legs straight, I need to prop my hands on a bench. My plan is to gradually reduce the height until I am able to place my hands on the floor.
Benefits of the Runner’s Stretch
According to the description of the e-cise, the purpose of the runner’s stretch is to “isolate the hamstrings under bilateral pelvic demand to promote coordination with the hip.”
For me, the real benefit of this exercise is that it enables me to stretch and lengthen my tight hamstring without any compensation by my lower back muscles. The cue to “arch the back” with the legs straight is critical in achieving the desired hamstring isolation.
One of the key indicators that the runner’s stretch works is that the Downward Dog e-cise is much easier after the runner’s stretch. I don’t have to bend my knees quite so much in order to get the arch in my back while performing the Downward Dog.
Of course, in order to achieve maximum benefit, the runner’s stretch needs to be done together with other Egoscue e-cises designed for your imbalances. For example, I am sure that gravity drop and a hip lift e-cises are helping to release other tight muscles thus making the runner’s stretch easier.
I’m definitely excited about my new hamstring flexibility and reduction in pain. More to come!
Visit Oregon Exercise Therapy for more information about the Egoscue Method.
Disclaimer: This post is part of a collaboration with Oregon Exercise Therapy. All opinions are my own.