Massage & Bodywork

May/June 2013

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best practices Business side | Q & art | table lessons | savvy self-care The Forgotten Hamstring Working on the Short Head of the Biceps Femoris By Art Riggs Q A Dear Art, Although most clients receive great benefit from hamstring work, I have a few whose hamstrings remain tight, especially distally, no matter how much work I do. Do you have any suggestions? —Hamstrung Dear Hamstrung, As much as I value manual skill, it is not a panacea. Unresponsive hamstrings can result from many causes, including habitual movement patterns, posture, or an irritable sciatic nerve caused by spinal issues or piriformis syndrome. In addition to your manual skills, you can be of great help by teaching clients a consistent program of stretching to be performed many times a day to retrain stretch receptors and prevent a rebound from stretching too intensely only once a day. (Many clients report that Active Isolated Stretching is tremendously helpful.) Don't forget there is a great difference between short and tight muscles and long and tight muscles, and you need to approach them differently (Massage & Bodywork, "The Long and Short of It," May/June 2012, page 29). Although this may not be the case with your clients, I'd like to bring some attention to my personal crusade for the Rodney ("I don't get no respect") Dangerfield of the hamstring muscles. I'm surprised how many excellent therapists work the origin, insertions, and belly of the three hamstrings that originate from the ischial tuberosity, but ignore the very important, but often forgotten, fourth hamstring—the short head of the biceps femoris (SHBF). This muscle is frequently the missing link for me in restoring hamstring balance, especially for athletes or clients with knee dysfunction who often express surprise that nobody has isolated that muscle before. Long head of the biceps femoris 1 Short head of the biceps femoris See what benefits await you. 31

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