The hamstring muscles are located at the back of the thighs and when you frequently walk, run or train, these muscles can become tight and sore. When the hamstrings are inflamed, it can lead to pain at the back of the thighs and may also result to referred pain on the neck and back and may subsequently lead to poor posture.
Stretching your hamstrings is a great way to increase the flexibility of your legs and prevent pain and injury to the area. While some say that the conventional touch-your-toes stretch is the best way to stretch your hamstrings, there are some other exercises that can help you achieve strong and flexible hamstring muscles. Here are some of the ways on how to stretch your hamstrings:
• Doorway stretch
Start off by lying on your back in a doorway. Place your right heel against the wall while your left heel is just through the doorway. Bend your hips on a right angle while maintaining your legs as straight as possible. When you bend your hips, you move closer to the walls and the hamstring muscles begin to stretch. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat with the leg position switched.
• Strap stretch
To do this stretch, you will need a towel, a strap or a belt. Place it over the ball of the foot as you raise your foot upward with the toes pointing to the ceiling as you grab and pull both ends of the belt or strap. Feel the stretch and maintain the position for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.
• Hamstring step stretch
This stretch is basically easy to employ. Start by placing one foot on a step (about 8 inches high). Keep your toes pointing forward and start leaning forward on your hips. You will feel a stretch on the back of the thighs as you do this and maintain the position for about 30 seconds. Repeat on the other foot.
• Kneeling hamstring stretch
Another good way to stretch your hamstrings is by the kneeling stretch. Start by kneeling on one knee and extending the other knee so the heel is on the floor. The toes should be pointed straight up and the back straight. Reach your toes with one hand (on the same side as the extended leg) and use your other hand to support your body by placing it on the floor.
• Standing stretch
Aside from lying and kneeling, you can also employ a hamstring stretch while standing. Raise one foot on a chair or similar object so that your knee is slightly flexed. Make sure that only the toes are on the edge and your heel is off the chair. Lean forward and maintain the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg. You can increase the height of the chair or object to increase the level of your flexibility in time.
• Sitting stretch
While working in front of your desk or computer, you can still do the hamstring stretch. Sit up erect in your chair and place your hands under one thigh. Pull your knees up to your chest with your hands. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on the other thigh.
Maintaining a flexible hamstring improves your leg flexibility as a whole so employ these stretches regularly at home or in the office.