By, Sean Light CSCS
As a follow up to my article IMPROVING SQUAT DEPTH, I thought I should mention the concept of relative hamstring tension. In “Improving Squat Depth,” I talk about the importance of the hamstring in increasing your depth. The tension in the hamstring can draw the pelvis into a posterior tilt thus initiating squatting technical failure.
What we didn’t cover is what we are trying to accomplish by stretching the hamstring and rectus abdominis. This is where relative tension comes into play. We have to measure the relative tension of the hamstrings and rectus abdominis with the relative tension of the lumbar back extensors. As long as the tension is greater in the extensors, then the pelvis will be able to remain in anterior tilt, but once the relative tension shifts then the lumbar extension turns into flexion and the pelvis tilts posteriorly.
So when we stretch the hamstrings and rectus abdominis for the purpose of improving squat depth and performance, our true goal is to increase the range of motion in which the back extensors remain at a higher tension than that of the hamstrings and rectus abdominis.
We can also improve the back extensors capacity to maintain spinal and pelvic alignment by practicing exercises such as the superman hold.