Generally speaking, if you are a healthy individual, you should be able to touch your toes. Yet, there are a lot of people that can’t. Most of the time they throw their hamstrings under the bus. However tight hamstrings are not always the case. Tissue extensibility dysfunction (TED) or the inability for the fibers that make up muscle and tendon to glide smoothly over one another, is a common diagnosis.
We have assessed hundreds of people over the years and until recently, we would prescribe the same thing..static and some forms of dynamic stretching of the hamstrings. I wish I knew then what I know now. Stiffness in general isn’t simply stiffness; it’s there for a reason. Your body is telling you something. In our experience, much of the time this tension is protective in nature. In simple terms, muscle only does what it is told to do by our brains/nervous system. If our brain detects risk it can signal the muscle around a joint to tighten and restrict range of motion to prevent or reduce the risk of injury to that area.
Bennet et al (2009) conducted a study on a patient that was about to undergo knee replacement surgery. They tested range of motion both before and after sedation with a neural block. Post sedation, passive flexion increased an average of 16.4 degrees, while passive extension increased an average of 3.0 degrees for a total increase if 19.4 degrees, without altering the tissues themselves.
Big deal eh? Well yeah, it is.
TMR (Total Motion Release) is a way to listen to those quiet whispers that our body is communicating. The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy published a recent study (Baker RT et al 2015) demonstrating how TMR was used to “clean-up” the dysfunctional toe touch and of a 27 year old with chronic bilateral pain and tightness in her hamstrings that was diagnosed as TED….without any stretching. Additionally, she was pain free after her second week of treatment!
So, if you are generally healthy, can’t touch your toes, suffer from chronic hamstring tightness or pain and have tried everything from massage to pain pills without any luck, checkout the video below. Give it a try and let me know if it helps.
To moving better!
About the author:
Andy Luukkonen is the owner of Body Fit Health Club. He holds an honors degree in Physical and Health Education from the University of Toronto, is Level 2 Certified by Functional Movement Systems and is a Certified Practitioner of Total Motion Release. For more information or to book a Functional Movement Evaluation call 905-852-6175