Hamstring stretches are a
vital part of any flexibility program. They tend to be one of the most
restricted muscle groups in the body, and poor flexiblity of the
hamstrings are a common finding of mobility restrictions with my
patients and athletes in general. It can also contribute to hamstring injury
are the best hamstring stretches? Read on to find out.
If you think about the stress that gets placed on
the muscles of the body during athletic activities, it is very rare to
find a time when the muscles are stretched in a static or non-moving
position. Yet, the vast majority of stretching we do to improve our
flexibility and to prevent injury is done in a static way.
traditional stretching is done in a static position and held for 30-45
seconds. Functional stretching is done in a dynamic position, and the
stretch is only held for 1-3 seconds. This is much more like the
stretches and stress placed on the muscles during sports.
I use two different types of stretches
with my patients, and each one involves a stretch accompanied by either
muscle firing, or in a more functional position than with the leg just
Don't get me wrong, the traditional
way of stretching the hamstrings pictured at the left works,
but to really improve
function and mobility, a more active approach is necessary.
is why I recommend to all of my patients the two following hamstring
The Standing Hamstring Stretch
To perform the standing
hamstring stretch, first place your foot up on a chair or table. The
picture shows a chair, but the back of the couch, or the bed, or
anything about the height of your knee or waist is fine.
your foot on the chair, and then bend your knee enough to allow you to
lean all the way over and place your chest on your thigh. Try to keep
your back flat and bend at the hips.
your arms around your upper leg, and hug your thigh tight to your
Slowly straighten out your leg, but
make sure that you keep your chest and thigh tight together. You will
feel a good stretch in your hamstrings. The key to this exercise is to
make sure that your back stays flat, and that your thigh and chest stay
close together. Hold for 2-3 seconds, and then return to the strarting
position. Repeat 5-10 times.
This exercise stretches
your hamstring in a position that allows the knee to be bent and the
muscle in a shortened position.
Think about how
sports stretch your hamstrings...it is usually not in a straight leg
Active Hamstring Stretch
The second hamstring stretch that I
use with just about every patient I have is the active hamstring
stretch. This one involves an active use of the hamstrings,
quads, and calf while stretching the muscles. And it helps to improve
mobility at the hips as well. It is an outstanding stretch, and
one that I use myself in my
To start, you need to place your feet
on a small board. A 2X4 works well, and is not hard to find. You will
do this stretch with both your heels up and with your toes up. The
board allows for a change in your center of gravity, and a different
muscle firing pattern.
You also need to
place something between your knees to squeeze. I use a small foam roll
with my patients, either a 4 or 6 inch diameter roll. But, a rolled up
bath towel works just as well. The reason you need this is that it
works to get your lateral hip muscles relaxed. This allows for more
motion at your hips, and a better stretch on your hamstrings.
your heels on a board, foam roll between your knees. Now you are ready
to begin. Start by reaching straight up in the air. Reach high and feel
a little stretch in your abdominals.
over at the waist and place your palms flat on the floor. Bend your
knees as much as you need to to get your palms completely flat. This is
important. By bending your knees, you get your hips into a good
position to allow stretch on your hamstrings.
once your palms are flat, keep them there and lift your hips as high as
you can. You should feel a good stretch in your hamstrings. By lifting
your hips, you are activating muscles to move into the stretch. This
helps improve the stretch, as well as replicate the type of stress
placed on the muscles during sports activities.
the stretch for 1-2 seconds, and then return to the overhead
reaching position and repeat 5-10 times. Now, switch over to the other
side of the board, and place your toes up. Repeat the stretches.
A Complete Hamstring Prevention and Treatment Program
Hamstring injuries have a tendency to become chronic. This is because the rehabilitation
often fails to address the underlying causes of the injury.
In order to completely recover from a hamstring injury, you must address the mobility,
flexibility, balance, and strength issues that led to your injury. Otherwise, you are
doomed to suffer a recurrence.
Hamstring Solutions is a complete program designed to put your body back into balance,
and to address all of the underlying mobility, flexibility, balance and strength deficits.
This program not only will treat your hamstring injury and reduce your risks for re-injury,
it will also enhance your sports performance. A balanced body is a stronger body, and
Hamstring Solutions can give you both!
hamstring stretches are a great way to improve flexibility, mobility,
and your sports performance. These are just two different ways to
actively stretch your hamstrings. They are effective, and they work.
Otherwise, I wouldn't use them with my patients everyday.
a little guidance to get your
stretching program going?
Download a free copy of Flexibility
Solutions: Lower Body
- You will learn some of the best
the lower body. Step by step instructions with pictures, this whole
program can be done in as little as 10 minutes a day - and best of all,
its free! Just use the sign up form in the top right corner.
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