It is time to share more tips I learned as a Personal Trainer. Show your body love also by taking care of your muscles.
There are approximately 640 skeletal muscles. Some of them are well-known by us. Who never woke up with cramps in their calves. Some years ago I had them all the time. I cannot recall if it was due to lack of water or minerals, but I could not move when the pain was on. My skin crawls just to think about it.
But among all our muscles some we may never hear of unless we get injured. Truth is: it is not a congeniality contest. For our body to be in balance and to function properly, the entire system must do well. We think more of the “famous” muscles, but if the smallest one is over- or underactive, you will “hear from” it sooner or later.
The “other” biceps
One of these less acknowledged muscles is the biceps femoris. Maybe some of you will think that it is the full-name of the biceps. Yeah, that one from “flex Friday”. But it is not the case. The biceps femoris is not even in the arm, but in the legs.
In fact, the “famous” biceps’s full name is biceps brachii which could be translated as biceps of the arm. The name biceps is given to any of several muscles having two points of attachment at one end. While the prefix “bi” stands for 2, in this case it describes a two-headed muscle, having two parts(1). But enough of Latin and grammar for today. Let’s talk muscles!
Forming the hamstring complex one finds the biceps femoris long head and the biceps femoris short head. Even though their names are similar, they have slightly different functions in the kinetic chain.
There are other muscles in the hamstring muscle group, but today, we will be focusing on only one: the biceps femoris short head.
The biceps femoris short-head originates in the femur (posterior aspect) and inserts the head of the fibula. It is located at the back side of the legs.
The main function of the biceps femoris short-head is to accelerate knee flexion and tibial external rotation. If you have ever done ballet in your life, you have used them many times. Another of its important functions is the stabilization of the knee.
Why should you care?
The flexion of the knees is one of the movements performed when we walk. In the same way as we are constantly using the calves, we are also putting our biceps femoris short-head to work a lot.
One of the causes of pain in the biceps femoris is sitting for long periods of time. Is it your case? Probably yes. Most of us use seats that do not allow an ergonomic seating position. Me being (only) 5’1″, I generally have my legs hanging. Or I have to sit on the tip of the chair. Neither are optimal or healthy positions.
It is easier to think of your muscles when you train because you “feel” them. When you run, you feel the back of your legs. When you lift weights, you feel your arms. If you have a sedentary lifestyle chances are you will only acknowledge their existence until they hurt. Needless to say that it is already going to be “too late” then.
Where is the love?
When women think of self-love, they easily associate it doing the nails, going to a spa or having a girls-night-out. Men may prefer to sit home and relax; watch some match with the friends or buy some new part for their (almost custom-made) car. Either way, people rarely think of taking care of their muscles as an opportunity to show self-love.
Our body is the most incredible machine that exists, but we take it way too much for granted. When we get sick, we may nag about how bad it feels, but we rarely do the necessary to stay healthy.
Have you ever hurt your body in a way that part of it had to be immobilized? Did you realize how much you used that member then? Try a bruised rib. Been there, done that. Ouch!
So before your body starts to become a source of discomfort and pain, take time to show it some love by stretching it regularly.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. SMR is the answer here too. Last month I shared a picture on my Instagram with my beloved Rumble Roller. My biceps femoris short-head is an old well-known tender spot. Mainly on my left leg.
Together with my calves and back, they are the muscles I massage on a regular basis.
Another accessible solution here is a lacrosse ball. I found this exercise on the book Becoming a Supple Leopard from Dr Kelly Starrett (he also has book specially for runners named Ready to Run). I added it to my list of must-dos since then.
After doing SMR on the tender spots, it is always great to stretch the muscles. Hold to the position for about 30 seconds for a static stretch. Repeat it with the other leg.
In short, these are some of the points covered:
- We all should take care of our muscles, athletes or not (I will repeat it every time to make sure you remember it)
- The biceps femoris is part of the hamstring complex
- Biceps femoris short-head is (also) used for basic activities such as walking
- It is important to stretch muscles on a regular basis
- SMR is excellent to “soften” tender spots
- SMR and stretching can be done every day. Including on rest days. By doing them with proper form you will get proper warm-up and adequate rest between training sessions.
Do not hesitate to consult your Personal Trainer if you have questions about muscles and their functions.
Have you ever stretched your biceps femoris short-head?
Read also from the Muscles Series:
Have a fabulous day!
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** Before you start any physical activity, please consult your health care provider.