Looking for some of the best hamstring stretches in the world? Then you’re in the right place. Keeping your hamstrings loose and flexible is key for injury free and comfortable running training.
We’re Too Busy…And That’s a Bad thing
If you are leading a busy life, just like the rest of us, and don’t seem to have enough time to stretch all of your major muscles, then, I encourage you to, at least, invest a few minutes each day stretching your hamstrings.
Performing regular hamstring stretches will definitely help you avoid many of the aches linked to running and give you the greatest overall return on your fitness and health.
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.
The good news is that three are a set of straightforward and effective hamstring stretches that you can do to help you alleviate these unwanted effects.
But before we get to the good stuff, let’s first see what hamstrings are all about.
So you are excited? Then here we go…
What are the Hamstrings?
In case you missed basic anatomy 101, here is your chance to catch up.
The hamstring muscles 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!).
Each of these muscles ought to get 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.
Don’t worry. The stretches I’m going to share with you today are going to cover them all.
For more runner’s specific stretching routines, check out the following posts:
How to Stretch Your Tight Hamstrings
Here are seven easy hamstring stretches for flexibility. Perform each exercise once or twice, holding each stretch to the edge of discomfort, or between a 6 and 8 on a scale of 1-10.
I recommended performing these hamstring stretches when your muscles are well warmed, preferably after a run or a solid warm-up. And please never stretch a cold muscle; otherwise, you’ll only hurt yourself.
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 straight 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 Hamstring Strech
This is one of my favorite hamstring stretches of all times. But be careful here. It’s also one of the most challenging. The 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 your 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.
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Please add this simple hamstring stretch routine to your training program ASAP. The above exercises are all you need to keep your hamstrings flexible and supple so you can run your best for the long haul.
Furthermore, please remember to take action on what you have just learned. Learning about the best hamstring exercises to perform after a run is one thing, but actually stretching the muscles of the back thigh on a regular basis is another thing.
For that, you’d need to build the habit of regular stretching in your life. And yest, it’s just a habit, just like anything else in life.
One thing you can do to speed up this whole process is to incorporate at least three to four of the above stretches into your post-run routine. Perform more stretches if you’re suffering from chronic hamstrings tightness (just like the rest of us).
And remember to stay within your fitness level, and have fun.
For more on post run stretches, check the following links:
In the meantime, thank you for reading my post. And please feel free to leave your comments and questions below.
Featured Image Credit – Jeremy Hall via Flickr