What are your hamstrings? Your hamstrings are the group of muscles at the back of your thigh that start at the bottom of the pelvis and end at the back of the knee. These muscles aid in keeping your pelvis aligned properly. They’re among the many muscles that help attach leg bones to the pelvis and help the body tilt the pelvis and bend at the knee. Tight hamstrings can lead to knee and leg pain. They’re also responsible for lower back pain. To prevent that problem and increase flexibility, hamstring stretches done on a regular basis help.
Lay on your back for this hamstring stretch and feel pain start to dissipate.
Grab a towel at both ends, one end in each hand to form a loop in the middle. Lay on your back with legs extended, lifting one leg to put through the loop with the sole of the foot on the middle of the towel loop. Pull the ends of the towel lifting that leg up in the air. If you have a sore back, take it easy. Start with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and lift one foot, straightening the knee at the same time. Little by little increase the height of the foot, bringing it closer to your head as you get more limber.
A standing hamstring stretch can be done anywhere.
You don’t have to get down on the floor or even put on special exercise clothes to do a standing hamstring stretch, although if you’re using a chair for a prop, you might want to just do it in your own home. Start with the easiest form, keeping your back straight, extending one leg out in front, and bend at the hip bringing your chest toward your thigh as you bend your knee on the opposite leg. You can make it more challenging by putting the extended, straight leg, on a chair or stool and bending and stretching as you keep your back straight.
If you’re more active or an athlete, make the stretch a bit more difficult.
Use a prop that’s about waist high and place the heel of one foot on it. Bend forward at the hips and pushing your chest toward your thigh that’s outstretched. Keeping your back straight, try to grab your foot. You can modify it by doing the stretch in a one legged squat, rather than raising the foot. Lower your body with one leg extended and lean forward in squat position to grab the toes of the extended foot.
- Toe touching has always been a popular hamstring stretch. If you use it, don’t bounce to touch your toes and make sure your hips are directly over your feet.
- You can workout with a partner and have them help with the stretch. One person lays out straight, while the other person lifts that person’s leg, pushing the heel on the lifted foot and pressing the knee flat on the one that remains laying straight.
- If you have a tear in your hamstring or an injury, be careful about doing stretches too early. It can cause even more injury. Always check with your health care provider first.
- When you’re doing stretches, hold the stretches for 30 seconds. Do each stretch 3 times or more. Make sure you do them daily or even twice a day.