When evaluating a new client at Shine, we often have them bend forward and reach toward their toes. This usually elicits one of two responses: either the person is proud of his or her ability to palm the floor or ashamed of how short his or her hamstrings are. We usually hear stories of how much effort has gone in to trying to lengthen them in the latter group.
The truth is that, when it comes to posture, long hamstrings can be a disadvantage! In fact, we would prefer our clients not to be able to touch their toes on their first visit. I know this sounds like the opposite of what you have always been told. We see things differently...
As Postural Restoration-trained therapists, we know that most patients coming in to Shine with pain are very likely stuck in a painful postural pattern, with one or both sides of their pelvis tilted excessively forward. That position moves the upper attachment site of the hamstrings farther away from the lower attachment site, making them look shorter than they actually are. If you are able to touch the floor your hamstrings may actually be too long!
Your hamstring muscles are vitally important pelvic stabilizers, and if they’re too long it will be harder to get them to respond and do their job. This is something that Postural Restoration training can overcome, but it can take a little longer to "wake these muscles up."
By the end of your Postural Restoration retraining at Shine, you will be able to safely touch your toes without over-stretching any one area. This is one of the goals, but if you start out not being able to, GOOD FOR YOU!