We all know that it is important to stretch before exercise, but perhaps the most essential stretch that you should be doing is a proper hamstring stretch. Proper stretching can help reduce the chance of developing lower back pain or injuries and will help to keep your lower body much more flexible.
A lot of people don’t realize that hamstrings are much more susceptible to tears, strains and other injuries that other areas of the body. This is particularly true in athletes that utilize a lot of power, agility and speed in their movements.
Just by committing to a proper stretch before working out or participating in athletic activities, you will reduce your chances of hamstring injury dramatically.
Here are some excellent exercises that you can add to your daily routine:
The Basic Stretch
Put both legs straight out in front of you while sitting down on the floor. Bend at the waist while extending your arms straight in front of you, reaching forward. Keep the movement propelling in a forward motion, gliding your hands across your legs as you move.
Make sure to keep your knees straight as you move forward. When you reach the point where you feel a little discomfort, hold the position for 10 seconds and then return back to an upright position. You should do this stretch three times.
The Seated Groin and Hamstring Stretch
Begin this exercise sitting upright with your legs both outstretched in front of you. You knee should be flexed until your right foot is resting along the inner part of your left thigh, keeping your right knee close to the floor. Your shoulders should be kept down and away from your ears, while keeping your spine long and straight, then you need to lunge forwards at the hip until you can reach your left foot.
Try to lean forward as much as you can and the reach even further by relaxing your spine before pausing to hold this stretching position. You should be able to feel your muscles stretching in the back of the leg that is outstretched, as well as along the back and inside of the leg that is flexed. Breathe easy while doing this stretch and repeat again with the other leg.
The Lying Hamstring Stretch and Other Variations
For this exercise you need to lie flat on the floor and hold your knees at a 90-degree angle. With both hands, hold your left leg loosely behind the thigh while you raise it in the air. While keeping your right leg straight and down on the floor, ease your left leg as close to your chest as you can get it. This position will allow you to feel the stretch down the back of your thigh. Make sure to repeat this stretch with the right leg. And as always, focus on easy breathing during the exercise. If this exercise is too easy for you, a good idea is to move back to the original start position and before you ease the raised leg to your chest, straighten it instead.
This variation will help you to once again feel that muscle stretching along the back of your thigh, however you should also feel the stretch not just at the top of your thigh, but through the entire length of the thigh in this version. Remember to keep your back as flat as possible on the floor during both variations. Once again, repeat the exercise with the opposite leg. And again, focus on easy breathing as you move.
The above positions can be varied to allow you to get more out of your stretches. For example, you can change up the lying hamstring stretch simply by changing the lower leg’s position. Twist that lower leg in over your chest for a whole new stretch. Ease the leg into position, taking care not to pull on it forcefully to get it where it needs to be.
Keep your right leg straight while you sit on the floor. Take your left leg and bend the knee to the side, placing the bottom side of your left food against the inner right thigh area. Make sure you keep your toes pointed up during this exercise. Run your hands down your leg for balance as you lean in from your hips. You should really be able to feel your right hamstrings stretch. Again, make sure to switch legs and repeat.
Here’s a Tip: Just by pointing your toes either to the right or the left as you lean forward in this exercise, you’ll be able to stretch and exercise different parts of your hamstring muscles.
The Hamstring Chair Stretch
Use a chair or any other type of sturdy object that is knee-high and place your right foot on the edge. Your left foot should be kept firmly on the floor. Your right knee should be slightly bent. While keeping your back straight, you should lean forward at the hips. You should feel this exercise stretch your right hamstrings. Again, you should switch legs and repeat this exercise.
There are a lot of different types of stretches for the hamstrings that you can use to benefit your workouts. If you can start doing these proper hamstring stretches each day before your workout routine, you will increase your flexibility, reduce any lower back pain you might be experiencing and will also work to prevent any injuries that might occur.
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