Before you start your hamstring stretches they are not a singular muscle but a group of three muscles in the back of the thigh that oppose the quadriceps muscle. The hamstring muscles are essential when walking, jumping, running, and doing many other activities, therefore it is important to keep them healthy and at optimal flexibility level. Hamstrings may get injured during an intense physical activity, where the pressure on the muscle is greater than it can withstand. But not only athletes and fitness enthusiasts experience hamstring injury or tightness.
Because of its position, the hamstring muscle is flexed when our body is seated, which can lead to that muscle getting tight and stiff after a long sedentary period. Most people who have reported experiencing painful sensations in the back also pay minimal attention to their posture and overall body flexibility. Stretching is widely beneficial not just for our muscles, joints, and tendons but for our overall physical health. An assisted stretch from one of our stretchologists will loosen the hamstring further
What else can you expect?
Some of the advantages of stretching besides improved flexibility include:
Improved range of motion – regular stretching ultimately leads to enhanced quality of movement
Better physical performance - whether facilitating dynamic pre-workout stretching or passive post-training stretching, doing it consistently and regularly will positively influence the outcome of any workout routine.
Mood elevation – hamstring stretches, next to physical exercise, boosts the production of endorphins, the hormones known to reduce pain and soothe the mind.
Improved circulation – stretching encourages blood pumping through the body, ensuring nutrients such as protein are evenly delivered to the organs.
When thinking about improving flexibility and reducing the chances of injury, stretching is shown to be the most efficient regardless of your activity level. Unfortunately, regular gym-goers, track runners, and even professional athletes sometimes wrongfully omit stretching exercises from their routine. Stretching requires minimum equipment, a yoga mat, or anything similar, and you are good to go. What's even better is that stretching consumes very little of our time, and we can feel the benefits kick in soon after we develop a regular stretching routine lasting no more than 15 minutes daily or every other day.
Some of the most effective hamstring stretches
Take a look at the most effective stretching exercises for improved hamstring flexibility. Bear in mind that stretching shouldn't hurt, and if you are continuously experiencing pain in certain areas, consult with a professional as soon as you can.
Single Straight Leg Stretch
Start this stretch in a lying position; grab your leg at the ankle, knee, or calf with one leg elevated to the chest. Keep your leg straight but don't lock the knees. The goal of hamstring stretches is to push your leg towards your chest and feel the stretch in your hamstring. Hold this position for a couple of seconds, change the leg, and repeat as many times as you feel comfortable.
Sitting Hamstring Stretch
Start this stretch seated on a firm surface. Bend one leg in the knee with the foot facing forward and extend your other leg that should be slightly bent in the knee. Band forward with your back straight, and pull yourself towards your chest. Take the extended foot by the knee, calf, or foot if you can. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds, change the leg, and repeat. Doing this stretch regularly will gradually improve flexibility in your hamstrings and enable you to get deeper and deeper into the stretch.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Start this stretch in a standing position and place one leg in front of you. Flex your extended floor by pushing the heel to the ground and toes facing the ceiling. Bend your other knee slightly and lean forward with your spine in a neutral position. While bending towards your extended leg, use your hands to grab the leg. This way, you should feel a nice stretch in the hamstring, but immediately stop if you feel pain. Hold this stretch for up to 30 seconds, change the leg and repeat a couple of times.
Standing Wide Stance Hamstring Stretches
Start this stretch by standing up, with your spine in alignment with the neck and legs hip-width apart. Step with one leg to the side, and make sure both legs are facing forward. Bend from the hips, and reach for the floor with your hands. If you can, touch the floor. Deepen the stretch by pushing the torso towards the ground, and don't forget to breathe properly. Similar to other hamstring stretches, your capacity for the stretch will improve over time; just be consistent.
The bottom line with Hamstring Stretches
Hamstring stretches will certainly improve the flexibility of your legs, but doing only them will not influence the rest of the body that much. Consider developing a stretching routine that will serve your needs and be in tune with your flexibility level, and don't stress if, when first starting out, you feel tight and can't flex that much; you will soon enough see the results in your joints and muscles, and ease while doing everyday activities.