Tight Hamstrings

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GymBoyzMom

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My 8 year old is suddenly having a lot of trouble with slightly bent legs. The coach says he is getting tight in his hamstrings despite stretching at gym. I asked my son about it and he says it does feel tight. His groin is also tightening up. His dad's side is amazingly NOT flexible in those areas. Are there exercises and stretches he can do at home to help? Or book suggestions? Thank you.
 
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munchkin3

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A doctor (well trained in sports med) once told my son that since gymnastics is his sport of choice, then there was daily maintenance required in order for his body to hold up. Stretch 10 min. in the morning like brushing your teeth....everyday.

Is he having a growth spurt?
 
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profmom

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Yeah, growing was the first thing that occurred to me as well. I know DS's coach would say stretch at home every day! I'd ask the coach about good stretches.
 
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sce

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My ds' coach wants them stretching every evening. He says that with them building strength they have to work the flexibility or they will lose it.
 

skschlag

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D has learned that the hard way and now stretches twice a day..morning and night to recover some of what he lost as he got stronger. It will be a battle from now on to keep the flexibility.
 
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BlairBob

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Pike stretch for the hammies. Single side split (cossack squat) for the groin or middle splits or gravity middle splits (lay on back, open legs and hold possibly against a wall).

Ask your coach to work partner single leg splits with him possibly. To note...these are painful if you have tight hamstrings. I'm not sure I would want a parent doing these with their kids. Some kids cry, some kids cry and pull hair and pinch and grab flesh.
 

gymdog

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Ask your coach to work partner single leg splits with him possibly. To note...these are painful if you have tight hamstrings. I'm not sure I would want a parent doing these with their kids. Some kids cry, some kids cry and pull hair and pinch and grab flesh.
It doesn't sound like anyone should be doing it with anyone! There are ways to build flexibility that don't involve the kids crying, pinching, and grabbing flesh. In America, I would highly recommend using those techniques to avoid any accusations.

I recommend looking up massage techniques and just doing progressive stretching. No need to cry.
 
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BlairBob

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Super strong kid, super tight and a young guy. At the time, some years ago possibly the worst set of splits I've seen. Never had a problem with girls doing such but OTOH, never had girls so tight. Nothing had worked to that point.

Even doing stretches properly at times will cause kids to cry like box splits keeping them square. Seen plenty of girls do that during box splits with panel mats or parallettes because they got so used to cheating. Seen plenty of little boys cry with holding splits very short durations of times.
 

profmom

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DS's buddy (fourth year on team) has just this year gotten to the point where he doesn't cry anymore when they do splits and he's now only about an inch off the ground. No one was stretching him or pushing on him; he just tries really hard. Tough, tough kid who's going to go far with this sport if he sticks with it.
 

raenndrops

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I know this is in the MAG forum, but my gymmies have both been known to cry or almost cry during stretching their splits. We used to do the single leg stretches (with massage) at home and it helped - they both had their good leg splits all the way. Then we stopped eventually. Now, OG can get hers all the way down if she pushes really hard, but YG is back to not being close - which stinks because she is an L3 and has the splits in her routine.

Home stretching is a really good idea. We used to do it after bathtime. Hopefully in a month or so, we can go back to getting the stretching done regularly.
 

raenndrops

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None of my kids cry during splits. I find that weird, but, I guess it's a cultural thing.
Some children just have extremely tight muscles. Stretching helps, but if they don't stretch twice a day, every day, it is like having to start over. Both of my gymmies have suffered from muscle cramps at night since they were babies... and I can sympathize because I have had every muscle in my leg cramp AT THE SAME TIME in my sleep and I thought my leg was going to be ripped apart! I stretch regularly to try to avoid the leg cramps, but they still happen 3-4 nights a week.

When my gymmies are doing their splits in practice, they don't have the amount of time they would need (being tighter that the other girls) to completely stretch the muscles, but they still have to hold their splits just as long as the other girls. YG's hamstrings are so tight that she CANNOT straighten her front leg right now in her "splits" if that's what she is calling them.

In about a month - month in a half, I will be able to see her more often and we can work those muscles back out and get her splits back down.
 
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iwannacoach

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Using sliders, hold onto a climbing rope and slowly slide into the split position. When you begin to feel the stretch, but before it starts to hurt, pull up slowly on the rope while pressing your front heel and ankle against the floor..... kinda like your trying to help yourself climb the rope by pushing yourself up using your splits.

Do 10 to 15 reps with almost all the effort coming from your arms during the first third of the way up to a 90 degree split during the first three reps. Slowly transition to pushing more with your legs and pulling less with your arms. Do not push harder than is comfortable during this exercise, as the point is to exercise the muscle (not torture it) while using it to provide gentle force through the entire (as practical) range of motion.

Hey figure it this way...... the worst that'll happen is the kids doing this will get stronger arms. o_O;)
 
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midwestgymcoach

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My 8 year old is suddenly having a lot of trouble with slightly bent legs. The coach says he is getting tight in his hamstrings despite stretching at gym. I asked my son about it and he says it does feel tight. His groin is also tightening up. His dad's side is amazingly NOT flexible in those areas. Are there exercises and stretches he can do at home to help? Or book suggestions? Thank you.

See a physical therapist, there may be an imbalance. Slightly bent legs could be the result of tight/strong hammies and weaker quads. Also, when he does a pike stretch make sure he's keeping his back straight. You could try Yoga. After nationals, my guys are doing Yoga twice a week in the gym. In addition to yoga, they will once again be doing ballet twice a week. Just spit-balling ideas to you. Does your gym have an a certified athletic trainer or PT that can come in?
 
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GymBoyzMom

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We live in the country, so they aren't going to bring anyone in. Interesting note about quads. maybe we will add wall sits to his stretching at home routine.

He is doing a lot of conditioning at gym and I think the added strength, plus genetics, is what is causing the tightness. He van do both forward splits to the floor with arms up, but he is struggling more and more. I just don't want to see all of his hard work go to waste. His coach is great, but with stretching he often leaves them to go do something and they end up being led by another kid on team.
 

GymBoyzMom

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He just did wall sits and he struggled. That is odd coming from him, one of the strongest kids I know. How long and how many reps for those?

BTW, I am hands off. I won't physically push him into any stretches because I am not trained and might hurt him. I can observe lines and let him know if he needs to change something.
 

gymdog

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Some children just have extremely tight muscles. Stretching helps, but if they don't stretch twice a day, every day, it is like having to start over. Both of my gymmies have suffered from muscle cramps at night since they were babies... and I can sympathize because I have had every muscle in my leg cramp AT THE SAME TIME in my sleep and I thought my leg was going to be ripped apart! I stretch regularly to try to avoid the leg cramps, but they still happen 3-4 nights a week.

When my gymmies are doing their splits in practice, they don't have the amount of time they would need (being tighter that the other girls) to completely stretch the muscles, but they still have to hold their splits just as long as the other girls. YG's hamstrings are so tight that she CANNOT straighten her front leg right now in her "splits" if that's what she is calling them.

In about a month - month in a half, I will be able to see her more often and we can work those muscles back out and get her splits back down.
I agree some are tighter of course. I have one child who can barely get regular splits while stretching the same as the others who have full over splits. Oddly, it doesn't seem to affect her ability to do skills or have straight legs, but I'm constantly terrified she's going to get an injury or something so I'm always adding more stretching. I don't know. We stretch for a full 30 minutes on legs.

But still she doesn't cry. I have seen kids try to push themselves like that and if they're obviously struggling then I instruct them on how to maintain a more progressive position. I'm no therapist but it seems like muscle tears are counterproductive to building flexibility so I don't want them to push to that extent. If they're pushing to a normal extent crying isn't usually done at all in our gym. I don't have a rule against it but if a child seems upset I'll suggest they collect themselves before participating. I can't even think of the last time someone cried at all except in my 4-5 group, and that was because she fell in the parking lot on the way in. Sometimes they pout or complain or whine, but crying, eh. I try to keep the mood professional.
 

gymgymgymnast08

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I used to get flexibility for an entire rotation sometimes. My teammates would take turns coming over and sitting on me or pushing me down. I got more flexible than I was but I was never near anywhere as flexible as anyone else.

I had a few coaches over the years who would yell at me because I couldn't do any splits and because my bridges were so terrible. They would be like "you're a level 9. You should have all three splits and a perfect bridge." But its like no, I was a level 9 because I had all the skills and routines to be a level 9. I just got my bonus on floor from tumbling not from doing switch leap halfs and popas!
 
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BlairBob

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Pain tolerance will vary based on individuals biochemistry and time in training. Bring a newbie and more than likely they will hate splits and they may cry. By the time they are a seasoned gymnast, it's no biggie.

Pain tolerance is often far, far less in younger children, those 4-7yo kids.

Then again, some kids are just iron willed and some are butter buns.
 

GymBoyzMom

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My son has high pain tolerance and a will to succeed. He can handle the pain better than most, I think. He has been working on his front splits and hamstrings this week, along with wall sits, and there is a small improvement already.

I now think that his quad strength IS part of the key to his issue with tight hamstrings.
 
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