When it comes to changing movement, it’s vital that we address the soft tissue. We know that hotspots, trigger points and excessive muscular tension can limit range of motion and compromise movement patterns. Foam rolling and self-massage has been proven to improve both short-term flexibility and long-term flexibility when performed on a regular basis. The key is to find the areas that will have the greatest positive impact on whatever movement pattern you’re trying to improve upon. If your goal is to improve the active straight leg raise, we need to address the soft tissue in the posterior chain. To be more specific, we should be focusing on the calves, hamstrings, and glutes.
The average person will sit anywhere between 40 and 60 hours a week. This seated posture can create tightness in the anterior chain. To be more specific, the hip flexors and the quad muscle group. Restrictions in the anterior hip can often lead to the inability to extend the hip and properly recruit the glutes and hamstrings. In life and in sport, the body thrives on reciprocal patterns. When one hip is in flexion, the other is in extension. This reciprocal pattern is a key component of the active straight leg raise. Often times restrictions in the anterior hip can limit the ability to extend the hip on that same side. A simple and efficient way to improve hip extension on one side is to remove or reduce any soft tissue tightness in the anterior hip. One of the most effective ways to address this is via foam rolling or self-massage.
By pulling the front of the pelvis down, tight quads can lead to tight and painful lower back muscles. Second, tight quads can contribute to weak hamstring muscles. Hamstring muscles are the quads' opposing muscles; they are located at the back of your thigh.
It's natural for the quads on the front of the leg to be stronger than the hamstrings. The strength of the hamstrings should be between 50 to 80 percent of the quad strength, with 70 being the optimum goal. But many people have a strength imbalance. Their hamstrings are too weak to support the action of the quads.