“I Need Better Flexibility in My Hamstrings, Where do I Start?”

Another great example that we get asked all the time. How do I increase flexibility in my hamstrings? It comes from many different sources when people ask us. “My Doctor tells me I need better flexibility in my hamstrings to help with my low back pain.” “My Golf Instructor tells me that increasingly my hamstring flexibility will improve my swing plane.” There are thousands of reasons you want to maintain flexibility in your hamstrings but rather than list what you already know, let us take a few minutes and show you some simple steps to get started.

First remember that there are multiple ways to stretch a muscle. The way we are going to discuss and to be honest is the best option in our opinion is to lengthen the muscle by contracting the antagonist or opposite muscle. What is the opposite of the Hamstring then is what we need to determine. The obvious answer is of course the quadriceps. We also want to make sure that the hip flexors are included in this as well. The reason for this is that just like the hamstring, the hip flexors and quadriceps are responsible for the anterior movement of the pelvis.

Since your hamstrings attach at the back of your pelvis, the movement of the pelvis forward or anterior then will pull on the hamstrings causing them to lengthen. Lengthening of the hamstrings then involves not only getting the body in a position to attempt to completely straighten the leg, it also requires the contraction of the quadriceps and hip flexor muscles.

Here are a few examples of some moves that will do this for you.

IMG_1670 The basic leg lift is actually a good way to start when gaining flexibility in the hamstrings. To perform the move make sure that before you begin to lift the leg you have contracted the muscles of the quadriceps as hard as you can and pull your toes back towards you. Now lift as high as you can until the knee wants to bend, then lower it back down.

IMG_1816 The next move is similar to the leg lift but know you use the arms to assist in getting the leg a little higher than you can with just your muscles. Make sure that with the assistance of the hands that you are still contracting the muscles of the quadriceps and hip flexors as hard as you can while you hold the stretch. Like Loren mentioned in one of the Fitness Tips of the Week, hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds to allow the hamstring to lengthen.

We have also done a few moves in our Exercise of the Week Program Like the Runners Stretch that are great examples of moves to lengthen the hamstrings.

1 Comments on this post

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  1. Coach S. said:

    Thanks, this really helps! My hamstrings get tight after I run, so this along with warming up and cooling down keeps them from getting too tight.

    December 5th, 2009 at 6:42 pm

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