I have always had really tight hamstrings. Like drum tight.
The only time I ever remember feeling flexible was when I was about 15-16. Back then I did Taekwando. For those who aren’t familiar with this martial art form, it originated in Korea and grew very popular here in the 1980’s. The style involves quite a bit of kicking, front-kicks, side-kicks, roundhouse kicks, all-sorts-of-kicks. Taekwando can teach a kid a lot of great stuff such as discipline and focus. But one thing for sure that it improves is flexibility. We spent a ton of time stretching our leg muscles so we could kick higher and do acrobatic jumping twirling kicks like you see in the movies.
In the world of Taekwando and other sports such as gymnastics, or in dance, it’s clearly important to develop exceptional flexibility. But, for the rest of us, does it really matter much that our hamstrings always feel tight?
I would answer that question with another question…
Do your tight hamstrings impede your mobility?
Mobility refers to our ability to move a joint through it’s full range of motion without pain, restriction or disfunction.
One might also argue in the larger sense that “mobility” also conveys that we can get our bodies to do what we want them to do. Whether that involves climbing a mountain in the Himalayas or climbing a flight of stairs, our mobility will dictate how successful we are, and to a certain degree, how enjoyable the experience is. So, mobility is important. It’s on our list of “stuff that really matters”.
How does one improve or increase our mobility?
Flexibility certainly has a part in this. When we’re inflexible or lack mobility in a specific joint, it can inhibit our ability to be mobile in the larger sense. So, consistently working on our flexibility is an important aspect of functional fitness.
Another way to improve our mobility is to move. Seriously. It doesn’t have to be super complicated. If we seldom to rarely climb stairs, guess what? We’ll soon find it really difficult to climb stairs, even worse to descend the stairs. If we have pain trying to kneel down, guess what? Most of us will avoid kneeling. And can you guess what that inevitably means? We will lose the ability to do so without pain and dysfunction. If we don’t kneel or aren’t able to, guess what? We’ll become really uncomfortable getting down on the floor. And even if we’re able to get down there, guess what? We won’t be able to get up… See how this works?
Mobility matters. A lot!