Top Five Ways to Loosen up Your Hamstrings

Friday, April 28 2017 8:16 AM

Hamstring StretchWhether you are a weight lifter, runner, a yogi or cyclist, you probably have noticed the importance of keeping your hamstrings flexible. Tight hamstrings are a very common problem that can limit your athletic performance or even lead to an injury. It could also strain your back during day-to-day activities. Tight hamstrings could be the result of many different things but it could be from an old injury, low mobility, sitting all day or overdoing a certain exercise. The good news is you can improve your flexibility by stretching three to four times a week!

Below are five easy ways to loosen your hamstrings. The rule of thumb with all static stretches is to make sure you are not starting your stretching session cold; you should always start with a short warmup to avoid injury. You can do this by walking or jogging a couple laps, doing some jumping jacks or a few sets of squats.

  1. Stretch Other Areas First
    Lack of flexibility in the hamstrings can be caused by other areas of the body. Start by loosening up your body with hip mobility stretches, calf stretches and back stretches. You’ll notice your range of motion is much more afterward.

  1. Do Shorter Stretches With More Repetitions
    Research has shown that longer stretches have minimal increased benefits. Instead, keep each stretch to about 15-30 seconds with more repetitions.

  1. Follow up Stretches With Active Movements
    When it comes to flexibility, it’s often a use it or lose it situation. To retain a range of motion requires actively using that new range. Your body needs to be educated on how to move in that new range so doing dynamic exercises like deep squats, legs swings, jumping and kicking drills will work.

  1. Focus on One Flexibility Technique at a Time
    There are many methods you can use to get a good stretch. For example, foam rollers and balls but beware of doing too many methods at once. If you are doing too many, you may not know which method worked best, or worse, which one set you back!

  1. Don’t Force a Stretch
    Doing a stretch with too much force or too fast will activate a “stretch reflex”, which will then create more tension and then resist the stretch all together. Keep in mind your muscles aren’t passive structures. Start a stretch by slowly rocking back and forth while focusing on your breathing. Give each stretch about 30 seconds and you’ll likely find yourself further into the stretch and with less strain.

Gaining more flexibility in your hamstrings may take some consistent work but it can be done. You may be surprised how much better your legs, back, knees and exercise routine feels afterward.

Feel like you need more direction or assistance with your stretching routine? Any one of our trainers would be more than happy to help tailor a routine for you.

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