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The 7 Best Hamstrings Stretches For Runners

Sticking to a regular stretching routine is a vital aspect of any training program and running is no exception.

The Benefits

A consistent stretching routine can help you boost your range of motion, and improve muscular coordination. It can also speed up muscle recovery and help you bounce off faster between hard workouts.

And one of the muscles that need to be stretched regularly—especially if you are runner, or do any form of exercise for that matters—are the hamstrings.

Lots of runners complain about tight hamstrings. In fact, the more you run, the tighter your hamstring can get—especially if you are a long distance runner.

Truth be told. If you do any form of exercise—whether it’s running, biking, you name it, your hamstrings could use some stretching and love.

Why should you worry about tight hamstrings? Loose and happy hamstrings are key for the health of your back, hips, and knees. Ignore them and you shall suffer.

Tight hamstrings is a bad omen and can lead to all sorts of trouble. In most cases, tight hamstrings can hinder athletic performance, cause back pain and lead to a plethora of overuse injuries.

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Image Credit  – Decado Health via Flickr

What are the Hamstrings?

In case you missed basic physiology 101, here is your chance to catch up.

The hamstrings refer to a group of the three muscles on the back of your thigh. These vital muscles consist of the bicep femoris, semetendinosus and semimembranosus (what a mouthful!). And each of these muscles must be stretched if you are serious about achieving balance.

These three muscles work inexorably to hold you upright and act as powerful hip extensors and knee flexors.

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Don’t worry. The stretches I’m going to share with you today are going to cover them all.

So add the 7 running-specific stretches below to your current flexibility routine and start to open up your hamstrings one bit at a time.

When and How?

I recommended performing these stretches when your muscles are well warmed and loose, preferably after a run or a solid warm-up. And please never stretch a cold muscle, it will only hurt and lead to trouble.

For more runner’s specific stretching routines, check out the following posts:

8 Standing Post-Run Stretches For Runners
The 7 Stretches Every Runner Should Do
7 Yoga Flexibility Poses For Runners

The 7 Best Hamstrings Stretches For Runners

Here are seven easy and vital stretches that target the backs of your legs. Perform each stretch once or twice, holding the stretch to the edge of discomfort, or between a 6 and 8 on a scale of 1-10.

  1. Lying Hamstring Stretch with Cord

Start by lying on your back with back straight and legs extended. Next, while keeping your lower back down on the floor and hips level, bend the right knee in towards your chest, then slowly set your knee straight while reaching for the back of your leg with both hands.

Be sure to pull the right leg towards you as gently as possible while keeping both hips firmly on the floor.

Hold the stretch for 30-second to one full minute then switch sides.

2. The Cross-Over Hamstring Stretch

While standing up erect with legs crossed, right leg over your left, with the feet close together.

Next, while keeping a soft bend in the knees, slowly roll your upper body and let your hand reach towards the ground. Keep rolling down until you feel a mild stretch along the back of your left leg. Don’t fret if you couldn’t reach your toes. Just give it time and you will eventually get there.

Hold the stretch for one full minute then repeat with the opposite leg.

3. Half Split

This is one of favorite stretches of times. But be careful here. It’s also one of the most challenging. Half split is ideal for stretching the low back, hips, IT band, hamstrings and calves.

Here is how to perform them in a safe manner.

Start in a low lunge position with your right leg in front,

Next, slowly straighten your right leg as much as you can, then slide the left leg straight behind you. Then, while keeping your hips squared and stacked over your left knee, slowly fold over you right leg while lengthening your spine and keeping your back straight the entire time.

Hold the position for one full minute, then switch sides.

4. Seated Forward Fold

Begin by sitting on the floor with both legs extended straight out in front of you. Be sure to point both feet straight up towards the ceiling.

Next, while keeping the legs straight and core engaged, stretch your arms up overhead and fold your torso over your thighs. Hold onto your feet, ankles or shins. In case you are too tight here, you can always wrap a towel or yoga strap around the soles of your feet.

Hold the position for one to two minutes and then slowly sit up.

6. Triangle Forward Fold

Stand with your feet together, core engaged and hands on hips.

Next, to perform the triangle forward fold, step back with your left foot about two to three feet. Make sure your right foot is facing forward while the left foot is at a slight angle.

Next, while keeping the back and legs straight as possible, bend forward from your hip joint, extend your body over your right leg, and place your right arm on your tight, knee or shin (you can also use a block for assistance).

Make sure to feel the stretch in your hamstrings and lower back, and the whole back side of your leg.

Hold the stretch for 30-second to one full minute then switch sides.

7. Standing Hamstring Stretch

Start by standing up straight with feet shoulder width apart. Be sure to keep your chest up and back straight.

Next, slowly bend forward at the hips with arms hanging down and with legs straight as possible until you start feeling a mild stretch in your lower back and hamstrings. Try to reach to your toes but do not pull anything to do so.

Conclusion

Please add this simple hamstring stretch routine to your training program ASAP.

In the meantime, thank you for reading my post. And please feel free to leave your comments and questions below.

David D

Featured Image Credit – Jeremy Hall via Flickr

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