Hamstring stretch

 

We’re now well into the new year with new resolutions. Amongst them are likely a few to get fit – at least that’s one explanation for all the runners out on the roads lately. However, for those weekend warriors or those just getting back into running, we need to be smart about our new exercise regime - part of that means taking care of our muscles. One area prone to injury for new runners are the hamstrings. Proper stretching can help prevent injury to this area.

 

Location: The hamstrings are a group of three muscles (semimembranosus, semitendinosus and biceps femoris) on the posterior thigh. Generally speaking they run from the sits bones (located at the bottom of your hip) to the knee.

 

Actions of the muscles: They are used primarily to extend the thigh, flex the knee and medially rotate the knee. This group of muscles plays an integral role in walking, running and jumping.

 

 

The Stretch: A yoga belt is helpful to perform this stretch, however a towel will also do the trick.

1. Lie flat on your back.

2. Hook the yoga band around your ankle, and slowly raise your leg straight up into the air. Use the yoga belt as a guide, and keep your hips firmly planted on the ground. For those with very tight hamstrings, it’s ok to bend your knee slightly.

3. When you feel a stretch in the posterior area of your thigh stop and hold the stretch for a count of 30 seconds.

4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 two more times, lifting the leg higher as needed to feel more of a stretch.

5. Repeat the whole stretch on your other leg.

 

This is a great stretch to perform after running when your muscles are warmed up. However, it’s not just runners who can benefit from this stretch. Finding the time to stretch properly can seem daunting, but taking a few minutes before bed or while watching tv are also great opportunities to perform this stretch.