There are a few good stretches that you can perform to stretch the hamstrings. Which ones you do will depend on your level of flexibility and comfort while performing these stretches. I will start with the easiest stretch and progress to the hardest one.
The first stretch pictured is called the Standing Toe-Raised Hamstring Stretch. Stand with one knee bent and the other leg straight out in front. Point your toes straight ahead with the toes of the extended leg pulled back toward your body but still pointing straight up towards the sky. Keep your back straight and rest your hands on your bent knee.
The progression from this stretch is the Standing Leg-up Hamstring stretch. This stretch gives you a little bit more of a stretch in the hamstrings than the previous stretch. To do this stretch stand upright and raise one leg on to an object. Keep that leg straight and your toes pointing straight up. Lean forward while keeping your back straight. You can reach for your toes, keep your hands on your waist, or reach as far forward as you can comfortably. This stretch focuses on the same muscles as the Standing Toe-Raised Hamstring Stretch.
The next hamstring stretch is the Sitting Single Leg Hamstring Stretch. This stretch is the most challenging of the three and should only be performed if it can be done comfortably. Sit on a bench with one leg out in front and toes pointing upwards. Let your head fall forward and reach towards your toes with both hands. If you cannot reach your toes, you can hold on to the sides of the bench as shown in the picture.
This is the 11th of our Top Stretches Series of posts. Yes we know this is more than ten but once we got started we just could not stop. Stay tuned for more great articles on Stretching and Flexibility. *Note to always warm up before performing static stretches. It is important to hold each stretch for a minimum of 30-60 seconds for full benefit.*
Lucette., & Clark, C. (2008) NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training (p. 139-171)
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