The hamstring muscles at the back of the thigh are made up of the biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus, extending from the sit-bones to the knees. These muscles are responsible for the bending of the knees. So if you have strong hamstrings then you can jump high and accelerate with explosive power. Hamstrings are also key, when it comes to maintaining good posture and preventing leg injuries. However, hamstring strain is a common condition which can hamper the movement of many runners and gym goers.
Hamstring muscles are not used to their full capacity and this often leads to tightening of the muscles, making them vulnerable to strain. 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.
But don’t let all this deter you from running or working out. Injury is a part and parcel of fitness and we understand it. To prevent hamstring strains 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 three basic stretches that can be done in between workout sessions or post run, to strengthen your muscles:

Standing Hamstring Stretch

This is a fairly simple stretch that is beneficial to boost the blood flow in your muscles. Start by standing straight and slowly bending forward to touch your feet. Remember to keep your legs straight in the process. Hold this position for a good 10 seconds and return back to your standing once you feel that your hamstring muscles are becoming taut.

Single Leg Hops

Single leg hops are a great way to ignite the dormant strength of your hamstring muscles. Stand on one leg and slowly jump forward. Alternate this between the two legs and do 2 sets of 10 reps each. This also works as a good alternative for a warm up exercise in case you don’t want to over-exert your body.

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. Do the same for the other leg. Complete 2 sets of 15 each and you will feel the difference this simple stretch has made when you hit your next session.

 

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