If you are like most people, at some point you have experienced tight hamstrings. The hamstrings consist of three muscles that start on your sit bones, run along the back of your thigh, cross behind your knee joint and attach to the lower leg. When your knee bends, the hamstrings contract. When your leg straightens, they lengthen. Tight hamstrings can result from exercise, such as resistance training. Dynamic activities that involve a lot of stopping and starting, think basketball and soccer, can cause tightness. Over activity always makes sense, however, under activity is also a cause of tightness. If you are someone who sits all day, it causes our hamstrings to shorten and feel tight.
So now that we know what causes tightness, let’s talk about how to stretch them. While there are many stretches to work the hamstrings, the seated hamstring stretch is my go to. Not only does the seated hamstring stretch work on the tightness in the back of the legs, it is also great for anyone with tight hip flexors (ie most of the population).
Poor posture and extended periods of sitting can cause your hamstrings to feel tight or strained. Stretching out your hamstrings regularly can increase your range of motion, which, in turn, can help you maximize your workouts to be more effective and less uncomfortable. It is important to include hamstring stretches in your warm-up if you are about to do physical activities that are lower body intensive. Treat training and stretching them equally to create the balance of stability and flexibility needed for proper movement.
As with any stretch or exercise, proper movement and form are required to prevent injury. If you are experiencing severe pain you should consult a doctor. This blog is not meant to diagnose or treat any injuries.