Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hamstring And Low Back Injuries--Prevent Them!

Prevent hamstring and low back injuries with adequate flexibility and strength.

The sit and reach test measures the flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings.

You will need a box about 12 inches (30 cm) high and a ruler:

1. Sit on the floor with your back and head against a wall. Your legs should be straight ahead and flat against the floor.

2. Place the box flat against your feet (no shoes). Keep your back and head against the wall and stretch your arms out towards the box.

3. Have someone place the ruler on the box and move the zero end towards your fingertips. The beginning measuring point is where the ruler touches your fingertips.

4. Lean forward slowly and smoothly (do not bounce) as far as possible keeping the fingertips level with each other and the legs flat.

5. Slowly reach along the length of the ruler 3 times. On the third attempt, reach as far as possible and hold for 2 seconds. Have someone record the score. Do the test 2 more times to see if you can improve your score.

The American College of Sports Medicine gives the following as good and sub-standard scores:

Men, Ages 20-29

99 Percentile - 23 in (58 cm)
80 Percentile - 20.5 in (52 cm)
50 Percentile - 17.5 in (44 cm)
10 Percentile - 12.25 in (31 cm)

Men, Ages 30-39

99 Percentile - 22 in (56 cm)
80 Percentile - 19.5 in (50 cm)
50 Percentile - 16.5 in (42 cm)
10 Percentile - 11 in (28 cm)

Women, Ages 20-29

99 Percentile - 24 in (61 cm)
80 Percentile - 22.5 in (57 cm)
50 Percentile - 20 in (51 cm)
10 Percentile - 15.5 in (39 cm)

Women, Ages 30-39

99 Percentile - 24 in (61 cm)
80 Percentile - 21.5 in (55 cm)
50 Percentile - 19 in (48 cm)
10 Percentile - 14.5 in (37 cm)

If you fall below the 80 percentile rank, you need to improve your hamstring and lower back flexibility to enhance your athletic ability.

Some good hamstring flexibility exercises are walking lunges, resistance band eccentric stretch, bodyweight deadlift and hamstring static stretch (static stretch should be done after workout or game). Good low back flexibility exercises are double knee-to-chest stretch, pelvic tilt, lower trunk rotation, trunk flexion and prone lumbar extension.

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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