Hamstring tightness is a common problem and, apart from being uncomfortable in itself, can lead to various other problems. The tightness doesn’t usually just go away, it gets worse over time. Whether you want to avoid hamstring tightness, or you are already tight and want to improve your flexibility, this hamstring stretch routine will help. It consists of 6 different hamstring stretches to make sure all the hamstring muscle fibres are thoroughly stretched.
Notes on flexibility training
- Muscles should always be warm when you stretch them. Stretching cold muscles can cause injury.
- To bring about improvement in flexibility, you should stretch frequently – daily if possible.
- Stretching should never be forced. You should stop at the point where you feel the muscle stretching and hold. Over stretching will cause injury.
- You should hold stretches for at least 30 seconds for improvement to flexibility.
Notes on this workout
- If you have any concerns about joint mobility, then please take appropriate professional advice before doing this routine.
- You will need a mat or some other sort of cushioned surface for the floor exercises.
- For stretch #2 you will also need a block to support you until you can reach the floor for the bent over exercises. A yoga block is ideal, alternatively use any solid item of the right height that won’t slip.
- For strecth #1, make sure your chair or bench is stable and won’t slip.
- As with all stretching, your muscles should be warm before you do this routine. Either do it when you are warm from exercise or general day to day activity, or do this short warm up (you don’t need to do the arm circles).
- The printable includes a 4 week tracker table for you to plan and record when you do the routine.
- Hold all the stretches for 30 seconds.
- Stretching needs to be done frequently to improve flexibility. Ideally you should do these stretches every day. The printable has a chart for you to schedule and track your stretching.
#1 Leg raised stretch
- Rest one foot on the chair or bench and straighten your leg out, making sure you don’t push your knee backwards.
- Lean your upper body over your leg until you feel the stretch.
#2 Bent over stretch
It’s important for your upper body weight to be supported in this stretch. You don’t want your weight to be hanging on your lower back ligaments. Unless you already have good hamstring flexibility, you won’t be able to touch the floor and will need something to support your weight. Use a yoga block or any solid object that won’t slip.
- Stand with your legs close together and knees bent, holding your block in your hands.
- Lean over and place the block on the floor as shown, using it to support the weight of your upper body.
- Now try to straighten your legs – at first you may not be able to straighten them completely, but work towards this.
#3 Kneeling stretch
- Kneel on one knee and extend the other leg in front of you, then slide the leg out until you feel the stretch.
- Support your weight with your hands on the floor, either side of your leg.
#4 Inner thigh and hamstring stretch
- Sit with your legs as wide as is comfortable for you.
- Rotate your upper body towards one of your legs.
- Hold onto the leg with your hands.
- Slowly lean over the leg until you feel the stretch in your hamstrings.
#5 Seated stretch
- Sit with one leg stretched out in front of you and the other leg bent comfortably out to the side.
- Slowly lean down over the straight leg, supporting your weight with your hands.
#6 Lying stretch
- Lie on the floor with one leg bent, foot flat on the floor.
- Gently pull the other leg towards you, holding onto it with both hands either on the calf or above the knee.
- Hold the position when you feel the stretch along the back of your leg.
- If you can’t reach to hold onto your leg, then use an exercise band/strap or a scarf around your leg, as shown below. As your hamstring flexibility improves, it will be easier to reach your leg.
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