Hamstring Stretches 


Name of Stretch: Hamstrings

Muscle it Prepares: Muscle groups at back of the thigh

Here Andy Thomas discusses this important pre-exercise muscle stretch for athletes to use and how it is done correctly.

      
           Fig 1                                  Fig 2                                      Fig 3

“The hamstrings are made up of three muscles: the biceps femoris, semimembranosus and semitendinosus.  These muscles are instrumental in causing movement at the hip and the knee.  As muscles can only contract to cause movement, the primary function of the hamstrings is to extend the hip and flex the knee.  They also play a part in causing rotation of the knee both laterally and medially.  Whether rising to stand from a chair, walking or running this muscle group is at work and is often liable to strain.  Keeping a good range of movement in these muscles can lessen the likelihood of developing a muscle strain.  Therefore performing some simple hamstring stretches will help reduce a possible injury. 

Before performing any stretching exercise, you should always remember safety first.  The first image (Fig 1) shows how not to stretch the hamstrings.  This position places increased pressure on the lumbar area of the spine, which may lead to a herniated disc or damaged ligaments.  Fig 2 shows a commonly used method for stretching the hamstrings, which involves bending one knee, and stretching the other leg forward.  By gently lowering your body weight a stretch of the hamstrings should be felt.  Hold this stretch for 10 seconds then change legs.  Repeat three times.  Each time you should experience a greater range of movement as the muscle stretches.  If your balance is not so good, then look at Fig 3 where you can see the same stretch being performed by sitting down.”    
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