If you’re like most people, if someone were to ask you how flexible you were, you would immediately try and remember, “How close can I get to touching my toes?”
If the answer is “not very close,” you definitely have company. Most of us sit for much of the day, with our legs flexed and hamstrings in a shortened state. Over time, the muscle will shorten and lose its ability to stretch.
But before you try to touch your toes, a warning:
DON’T ROUND YOUR LOWER BACK!
This position puts your spine in a dangerously vulnerable position. Over time, repetitive stress from these sorts of movements can cause disc degeneration and herniations.
Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let’s work on our hamstring flexibility, safely…
Hamstring Stretch #1 – Strap Pull
Lie down, keeping your left leg extended and in contact with the ground. Try and completely extend that leg, straightening your knee, flexing your quadriceps.
With a belt or rope or yoga strap around the ball of your right foot, pull your right leg up with your hands. Keep your right leg completely straight. Keep both sides of your sacrum (especially your right hip, which will tend to want to raise up) in contact with the floor as you extend both legs. Depending upon how flexible you are, your right leg might be extended at the 2:00 position, straight up, or even at 11:00 or 10:00.
The point is to feel a good stretch in the hamstring of that raised leg, especially behind the knee.
Hold the stretch for thirty seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
Hamstring Stretch #2 – Wall Stretch
Sitting near a door frame with your butt close to the frame, put your right heel up on the wall while your left leg extends through the doorway, on the floor.
With both hips flat on the floor, straighten both legs, activating your right quad and flexing your foot back in the direction of your face. If this isn’t enough stretch, push your right knee for added intensity.
Hold for 30 seconds, then switch to the other leg.
Hamstring Stretch #3 – Upper Hamstring Knee Grab
For me, my upper inner hamstring often gets tight from running or doing squat-type exercises. Here’s how to loosen it up.
Laying flat on the floor and keeping your left leg straight, grasp your right knee and pull it in the direction of your right shoulder. Make sure your hips, head and back stay flat on the ground. Don’t let that right knee come off the floor. You should feel a good stretch in your right upper inner hamstring.
Stretch for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
These stretches, when performed immediately after a workout when you are already warmed up, are a great way to keep your hamstrings from getting too tight.
Enjoy and stay healthy!
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Take a look at pictures of these hamstring stretches.
Take care and good luck!
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