Do You Really Need To Stretch Your Hamstrings?

Fall has arrived. Amazing colors once again. Should you stretch your hamstrings before hiking thru the fall colors? Read on to see if you should…or if you shouldn’t….


I want to share with you what my staff and I have learned to maximize your health and wellness and to keep you up-to-date on the happenings at OrthoWell. So read on and let’s keep you on track.


Do you really need to stretch your hamstrings??

So what if I told you that there is actually very little research that substantiates any long lasting effects of stretching? What if I also told you that you may not even have to stretch your hamstrings to get a release of the stiffness? Would that make you stop stretching or does stretching actually make you FEEL good?

I have been practicing PT for 26 years and I can honestly say that my patients have had some pretty amazing results with the soft tissue work that we do in combination with stretching exercises. Just look at our Success Story page. If you are reading this right now, you may actually be one on them. There are some things that get our patients better that may not have a lot of research-substantiated evidence.

In a 2010 article by Wepppler and Magnusson, they point out that there is only a transient mechanical increase in length of tissue after stretching. In other words, the muscle stretch recoils after the stretch is removed. How long the stretch lasts depends on the magnitude and the duration of the stretch. So then, how hard should you stretch and why do we only hold our stretches for 30-60 seconds?

We have used the evidence gathered from the study of tissue deformation or biorheology to determine that the optimum amount of time to acquire the most dramatic “viscoelastic” elongation of tissue is between 30-60 seconds. Yes, there is a much more gradual elongation after that time but who has the time to wait…right? There was a study in 2004 by Guissard and Duchateau that showed partial maintenance of tissue elaongaton 30 days after the program when patents were performing 20 minutes of stretching 5 days per week. So yes, you reap what you sow when it comes to the time spent stretching.

The Sensory Theory of stretching means that we achieve an increase in length while stretching due to a “stretch analgesia” effect in which “it doesn’t hurt as much” so you FEEL as though you can stretch further into the range. So what is wrong with that? If you stand all day and your hamstrings are working overtime to keep you upright and stable, what happens to the tissue? It becomes “stiffer”. This may be due to scar tissue, waste products, and trigger points that form due to this constant state of contraction. Intuitively, it makes sense to perform massage and stretching to counteract these effects. However, is this the cure for the stiffness? Gary Cook, a world renowned PT, who has revolutionized the way that we that we think of functional training would say unequivocally NO!

Gary Cook claims that the “stiffness” we feel is reflexive. It is due to the stabilizing effect that our muscles need to perform on a daily basis in order to control faulty movement patterns and faulty postures. Some parts of our bodies are stabile and other parts are very mobile. For example, your lumbar spine tends to be mobile or “sloppy” as Gray Cook would say. Many people are unaware of how to engage their core or how to perform proper body mechanics to prevent stress to the lumbar spine. Our hamstrings can be the first line of defense when it comes to stabilizing the spine.

If you are unaware of how you stand, you could be placing your pelvis in an anteriorly rotated position. When your pelvis rotates forward, it places a “pinch’ or a stress on your lumbar spine. Your hamstrings will consequently contract in order to correct your alignment and “pull” your pelvis posteriorly. What happens when you squat or roll out of bed? If you are not engaging the proper core and hip muscles then your hamstrings continue to fire in order to stabilize your spine. There you have it. The viscous cycle for constant hamstring stiffness.

So how do you become more stabile? First of all, you need to become reacquainted with your core. Just doing planks may not be enough. You need to be evaluated to determine any faulty movement patterns. If you don’t correct the faulty patterns, then you are reinforcing bad habits and putting yourself at risk for injury. Gray Cook has developed Functional Movement Screens to determine exactly where your deficiencies are. In addition to this, we have put together a version of the Selective Functional Movement Screen in our clinic. Based on the results of our screen, there are many types of corrective exercises that can be instructed to get you back on track.

In conclusion, you need to realize that “stiffness” anywhere in your body could be multifaceted.- especially with your hamstrings. Does this mean that you should never stretch or massage your hamstrings? NO. Stretching can certainly make you FEEL better but you need to realize that stretching alone may not be the cure. In the words of Gray Cook

“If the body doesn’t stabilize correctly, it will figure out another way to get stability: it’s called stiffness.”

So what you THINK is causing your stiffness may NOT be the reason. We all need to think outside the box. You are guaranteed that when you come to see us at OrthoWell PT

All the Best!




Drinking the Cross Fit Kool-Aid!

Harry feels better now than ever before…

I enjoy CrossFit because it consistently gives me a good workout.  The workout ideology of CrossFit prides itself on never falling into a routine.  This means every workout is something new that will not only work you out in a new way, but also help you to identify some new skill that you could improve upon. When working out with good form and responsible weight/volume, the benefits of Crossfit also translate to your functional daily activities.  After a year of Crossfit I can truly say I have witnessed these benefits during my day to day activities.



Matt Veiga

 As many of you have heard in the clinic I do a lot of mountain racing. This past weekend I had the luck to have a repeat win at one of the hardest races in the circuit. Check out my interview on to get a little glimpse into the head of the Female winner Leslie and myself about how the race went down and up in this case.


 Prevent Your Pain from EVER coming back

 Click the link to read about

this new option at OrthoWell 

Wellness Membership Program

 Our wellness maintenance program is for those of you who want  consistency of care after being discharged from physical therapy in order to prevent any reccurence of pain. We have three different plans the we offer that you can read about by clicking the link above.



Marc Smor


 “I would like to thank Chris, Katie and crew for the outstanding care I received after my Achilles surgery.  Their knowledge, experience and attention to detail allowed me to expedite my recovery.  Thank you.”

                                                               – Marc S.



Dont forget to take advantage of our Try Before You Buy program.

 We offer a FREE, no obligation injury screening for YOU, a FAMILY MEMER or a FRIEND. Just  click the link below or send it to someone who may need our help. 





Miracle Cure for Stiff Hamstrings? Save $$ on Monthly Maintenance

Happy New Year!!

 2016 has arrived. Thank you once again for helping to make 2015 one of our best years ever at OrthoWell.
The start of a new year is a time for resolutions. You may want to consider resolving to NEVER have a recurrence of pain by joining our Wellness Membership program. Read more below to save dough!

I want to share with you what my staff and I have learned to improve your experience at OrthoWell and to remind you how awesome you CAN feel. Read on and let’s get you back on track.

What REALLY is the cause for your tights hamstrings?? That is the first question we ask when we evaluate you at OrthoWell. Once we discover the cause, the next question is how do we treat it?
There are many approaches from both an exercise and a manual therapy standpoint to release your hamstrings. We are currently getting certified in a new approach, a new paradigm to the treatment of musculoskeletal dysfunction called Total Motion Release.
TMR focuses on neurologic patterns and connections within your body. TMR focuses on movements of greatest ease to release restrictions in either the same or opposing body parts. For example, treatment for a left frozen shoulder could entail active range of motion exercises of your right shoulder and your left hip instead of direct mobilization of the right frozen shoulder. Seeing is believing. 
The first video is a TMR shoulder “miracle” and the second is a TMR technique to stretch your hamstrings.



Our holiday promotional was a success thanks to YOU! We donated $10 for each new patient that came through our doors from Thanksgiving thru the New Years Eve that was divided between two awesome organizations:

Beverly Bootstraps in Beverly received $460

 Our Neighbors Table in Amesbury received $430

Prevent Your Pain from EVER coming back
Check out this new option for your Wellness Membership Program
This option is for those of you who want the consistency of care on a monthly basis but do not want to spend all the money up front for a Preferred package. This program allows us to automatically debit your credit card on a monthly basis. It includes all of the features of the Preferred Program and is priced at $60 per session. You can schedule an ongoing appointment or call to schedule as needed. If you dont use it, you will NOT lose it. We will just keep track of what you have used or not used. However, the purpose of our maintenance is programs is to use them consistently in order to prevent any reccurence of pain. We would only need a 60 day advance notice to cancel the program.

UltraMan and Our Trainer Extraordinaire
Matt Veiga
I’ve been running since the 6th grade. I ran cross country and track through high school and college. After college I completely transitioned from running on roads to running on the trails.  I ran my first trail marathon at Stone Cat trail marathon in 2011. The USATF New England Mountain Series is a series of races that focus on climbing and in some cases climbing and descending different mountains through MA, ME, and VT.  Over the past 2 years, I have placed 3rd overall and have become a regular in the top five of all the races.  The mountain series got me hooked on trail racing and the different approach it takes to do well.  The trail and mountain races require you to be strong uphill in addition to having leg speed for the flats and downs. 
In addition to running mountain races the past two year I have also run 2 ultra marathons which is any distance over the standard 26.2 mile marathon distance.  Specifically I have run two 50k trail races or 31 miles.  I have wanted to run an ultra since learning about 100 miles races in high school.  For some sick reason it just seemed like a lot of fun to me.  Like the mountain races, there are a whole different set of principals you need to learn as an ultra runner and it keeps you interested and working hard to reach your goals.  Next year I hope to move up to the 50 mile distance while continuing to have success in the mountain series.  
You can request private coaching services with Matt. He also has a blog at 

Sometimes injuries happen and you need some help. Check out what a recent Beverly patient said about his care here at OrthoWell:
“After a bad fall in the shower I damaged my knee. The injury was painful when I walked upstairs or at a fast pace. After several months of slow recovery I started physical therapy at OrthoWell with Chris and his wonderful, talented staff. My progress was almost miraculous. For those who doubt there is anything that can be done for pain and limited mobility visit OrthoWell. You will learn a lot about your body to help stay mobile and healthy”  Anthony Metaxas 11/13/15
Do you have low back pain? Check out the testimonial below and see how you can get 100% relief at OrthoWell:

“I came to OrthoWell with severe lower back pain.  Within the first week I could feel an incredible change.  The people are friendly and really understand how to help you.  Leaving OrthoWell I feel 100% better.  I will continue my stretches and continue to get better.  I would highly recommend this to anyone having issues with pain anywhere on their body.  Thank you OrthoWell.” -Melissa Parkhust 12/15/15

We are starting a Wall of Fame at each of our clinics. We are proud of our patients and the success that they have had.  If you have previously provided us with a testimonial, we would love to take your picture with your therapist and hang it with your testimonial for display it in our clinic!  Seeing is believing! 
Give us a call and we’ll schedule a time to take your photo so you can be one of the first patient success stories on our Wall of Fame!