A few sets of heavy deadlifts and RDL’s will leave your hamstrings sore and extremely tight. Tension in your hamstrings can lead to tight hip flexors, pain in your lower back, and increase your risk of injury. Stretching can help you improve your flexibility, mobility, and help with your athletic performance. We’re going to about a few hamstrings stretches to help loosen your hamstring muscles after your heavy leg day training session.
The hamstrings are located on the back of the thigh and stretches from your hips to your knees. The hamstrings are responsible for flexion and extension of the knee. Your hamstrings work in unison with your glutes and quadriceps, to provide adequate and fluid movement of your lower body.
Your hamstrings are a collection of three muscles extending from your hips to the back of knees, comprised of the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris muscles.
Your hamstrings cross two major joints – the hip and the knee, making them more complex than other muscle groups. Together these muscles work to bend your knees, extend the hips, and tilt your pelvis posteriorly. Hamstrings injuries are the most common sports injury, therefore stretching and strengthening your hamstrings can help prevent injuries. Some of the most common injuries are strains, tears, and contusions. These injuries often range from mild to severe, characterized by pain, inflammation, swelling, and restricted range of motion. Therefore, by adding effective hamstring stretches to your training program, can help achieve better functional movement and prevent yourself from strain or injury.
Causes Of Tight Hamstrings
Tight hamstrings can result from a variety of factors, such as poor posture, prolonged sitting, lack of warmups, muscular imbalance, muscle weakness, and poor form while exercising.
Best Hamstring Stretches
1. Inch Worms
Inch worms are a fantastic dynamic hamstring stretch. Dynamic stretches are a controlled movement which adequately preps or warms up your muscles, as opposed to a static stretch, which is achieving a certain range of motion and holding that position. Placing your hands directly in front of your toes, inch worms move from a standing position, and walk your hands no front of you until you’re in plank position. From there you reverse and walk your hands back.
How To Inch Worm
- Start standing with feet hips-width apart.
- Hinge at the hips to fold forward, reaching your palms to the floor in front of you.
- With your core braced and legs straight (but not locked), walk your hands forward to come to a high plank position.
- Pause, then reverse the movement to walk your hands back to your feet and stand to return to starting position
2. Downward Dog
Similar to the inch worm, the down dog is a remarkable and effective hamstring stretch. Down dog is a static stretch that places the hips high and pulls the hamstrings effectively to reduce tightness in your hamstrings.
How To Downward Dog
- Start by standing with feet shoulder width apart
- Place your arms straight down in front of your toes and get on all fours in a tabletop position.
- Walk your hands out and lift hips up and back, gently straightening legs to move into downward dog.
- Bend both knees slightly, reaching your tailbone and pelvis toward the ceiling and belly button tucked
- Hold for 10 seconds, trying to lift and set your heel all the way on the ground
3. Standing Hamstring Scoop
A dynamic stretch, the standing hamstring scoop is a great warm up stretch before heavy lifting or a sweat infused high-intensity interval workout. The hamstring scoop places tension on your hamstrings and is a great stretch to loosen your hamstrings before exercise.
How To Hamstring Scoop
- Stand with your feet hips-width apart.
- Shift your weight into the left foot and extend your right leg slightly forward so your heel rests on the floor.
- Reach your arms diagonally toward your right foot and sit your hips back, and bend left knee until there's a stretch in the right hamstring.
- Hold for 10 seconds.
- Switch sides, repeat and walk for 10 reps.
4. Seated Single Leg Hamstring Stretch
You probably learned this hamstring stretch in middle school PE class. The seated single leg hamstring stretch is effective and one of the best hamstring stretches to help reduce tightness and tension in the hamstrings, for better flexibility during your workout.
How To Seated Single Leg Hamstring Stretch
- Sitting, stretch one foot in front of you, with the other folded in, foot flat against, your inner thigh.
- If you can, grab your toe with the same arm of the stretched out foot (right with right).
- Breath out and try and get your chest down to your knee and stretch.
- Breath in, release and come back to starting position
- Repeat and hold for 3-5 reps, then switch sides.
Hamstring Stretches: Takeaway
Your hamstrings are the most susceptible muscle to injury. Stretching your hamstrings, is critical to overcome inhibited performance due to muscle soreness, tightness, and tension. The hamstrings are the central connector to several prominent and integral components to your movement, including your hips, pelvis, low back, and knees. Tight hamstrings can create pain and inhibit movement and athletic performance. Stretching your hammies is crucial to adequately warm up and cool down for proper movement and performance.
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