The hamstring are a group of three main muscles – femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus. Many a times the hamstring muscles are not used to their full capacity and this often leads to tightening of the muscles, making them vulnerable to being strained. This is mostly experienced by newbies at the gym, who try to lift heavy too quickly or young runners who jump into running marathons too soon. Many a times a strain can also be caused due to one muscle group being stronger than the other, causing imbalance in the weaker muscles.
To prevent your hamstring from straining it is essential to do a cool-down session after you’ve exerted your body in a rigorous activity. This usually comprises of stretching exercises that help loosen tight muscles which helps to increase the blood flow to muscles, hereby strengthening and relaxing them. Here are five stretches that will give your hamstrings the much needed boost:
Hands Behind Back Forward Stretch
This is a good stretch for your hamstring and your shoulders. Stand at a hips-width distance with both your feet placed firmly on the ground. Interlace your hands behind your back. Keeping your legs in place, bend the hips, tuck your chin in and slowly bring your hands over your head. If the stretch seems too intense then you can place your hands on the back of your thighs instead of holding them over your head. Take a little pressure off by also bending your knees slightly. Hold for 30 seconds and return back to the starting position.
This is a relatively simple stretch and can be done for those who are recovering from injuries and who experience tightness in their muscles. Start by standing with your feet together. Move your right foot to the back about two feet and bend forward from your hip, keeping your back and both legs straight. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
The standing hamstring stretch is guaranteed to reach the deeper muscles of your hamstrings. You can easily do this on a bench after a run or gym session. Lift your left leg and prop your heel up on the surface of a bench that is slightly lower than your hip. Flex your foot. Increase the stretch by bending forward towards your flexed foot and by creasing at your hips. Hold this for 30 seconds and then switch legs.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Seated hamstring stretch is a staple in every athlete’s cool-down session because it is very effective in strengthening the core hamstring muscles. Start by sitting on a yoga mat or floor with your legs stretched out at a comfortable length. While maintaining a straight posture for your back, lean in with your right arm to touch your left toe. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat the same for the other leg.
Seated Forward Bend
This targets the hamstring muscles as well as the lower back and is a great stretch after a heavy workout. Start by sitting on the floor with both legs extended out in front of you. Bring your torso down over your thighs, gently rounding the back while keeping the legs straight. Hold on to your toes and bend elbows when you hunch downwards. Maintain this position for 30 seconds and sit up straight again.