When we’re young, we take our flexibility for granted. It’s like the old saying: you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. And it’s often not until we start losing our muscle flexibility and range of motion that we decide to work on it.
As aging occurs, or due to certain health conditions, the cumulative effects of wear and tear begin to take their toll. We’re likely to notice our lack of flexibility while doing every- day tasks, like bending to tie our shoes. But poor flexibility affects much more than the ability to do simple tasks we once took for granted. It can also affect our strength, endurance, and overall quality of life.
There are several factors that can affect flexibility beyond aging, from obesity to problem joints, to a sedentary lifestyle, and the bad news is that decreased range of motion can begin a downward spiral of pain, stiffness, and lack of limited flexibility.
One of the most common – and troublesome – flexibility complaints stem from the hamstrings. A hamstring is actually a group of three muscles that work together: the biceps femoris, the semitendinosus, and the semimembranosus. Semimembranosus muscle pain can be felt just below the buttocks, down the back of the thigh and into the knee, and occasionally into the calf.
Tight hamstrings mean when you bend forward, the flexion comes from the lumbar spine, straining the ligaments, and causing pain. Conversely, lengthening the hamstrings is key to proper mobility, and preventing unnecessary stress on the spine.
The good news is there are several steps we can take to improve our flexibility, from getting enough sleep – our joints and muscles need rest to heal – losing weight, to staying active, practicing yoga or other regular gentle stretching exercises, and working with a chiropractor.
Chiropractic treatment offers a holistic approach that can maintain or improve flexibility in a natural manner, and its benefits for flexibility have been proven in countless scientific studies. Patients report fewer aches and pains, less stiffness and improved range of motion and flexibility.
Treatment of semimembranosus muscle pain, for example, may include manual therapy to release adhesions where the hamstring muscles meet the tendons, plus spinal manipulation to correct any predisposing lumbar or pelvis alignment issues.
Chiropractor care will also include a gentle range of motion exercises, the prescribing of strengthening exercises to correct any predisposing muscle imbalance.
An added benefit is that the endorphins released through chiropractic care also increases blood flow, which in turn helps the body eliminate waste by-products in muscles and helps the body break the seemingly endless cycle of pain that creates stress and vice versa.