Stretch Your Hamstrings (Part -2)

Stretch Your Hamstrings (Part -2)

Stretch your hamstrings (Part-2)

One of the complaints I hear repeatedly is, “Wow, my hamstrings are tight.”  But are they really?
Could it be that they are just not as strong as your quads and are having to work overtime to compete with the growing strength and the tightness of your quads.

Now, name all the different ways you strengthen your hamstrings. Not as many and I would guess you probably do them, o, hardly ……. never. Right? How many ways can you think of to stretch your hamstrings? Quite a few and you probably spend more time lengthening the hamstrings then you do strengthening them.

How many ways can you think of to stretch your quads? Do you engage in this activity as often as you lengthen the Hamstrings?  I would venture to guess, no, based on personal experience working with today’s time. Here is the thing, when we have an imbalance in strength in opposing muscles groups, the stronger muscles overpower and overwork the weaker set of muscles. Often the sensation of a pulled hamstring is nothing more than a tired, overworked, and underprepared hamstring. It cannot keep up with the demands of the Quads.

Put this theory to the test, come to standing balance on your left foot extend the right foot back, now keep the right foot and head in a straight line as you lower your chest toward the floor keep the standing legged locked out.

Exhale the hands all the way to the floor making sure the toes of your extended leg are pointed down toward the floor and your hips are parallel. This is important to strengthen all 3 hamstrings evenly and efficiently. While you inhale, rise up to standing; moving the body and leg together, slowly. If you find you are not flexible to come all the way to the floor, use a block or chair. Repeat this 10 times. Then repeat on the other side. As you get stronger you can then add weights to your hands or increase the number of reps.

Sounded easy enough, but what did you feel? Was it a familiar sensation? Like the feeling you get when you say to yourself, Ow, My hamstring is really tight. So I started to do some deep study and you know what I found out? Most hamstring injuries are not because they are inflexible, but because they are weaker than the quads. Then I learned that most people have stronger quads and glutes, and a weak core and hamstrings.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to find effective ways to strengthen the hamstrings and then teach to use the hamstrings instead of their quads and glutes? Try this. Get a friend, lay on your stomach and bend your knees to bring your heels as close to your bum as possible, flex the foot bringing the toes toward the shins.  Now your friend is going to gently try to pull your feet away from your bum and you are going to use your hamstrings and core to keep the heels from moving away.

I said the hamstrings and core, not the glutes and quads! Did you find yourself lifting your pelvis off the floor to engage your quads and glutes? If so, do it again and use those quads!

I have found when I use a ball to create an unstable foundation; I am likely to use my hamstrings a little more efficiently and with greater awareness then when my feet are grounded down into the earth. This exercise is a great way to strengthen the hamstrings, as you exhale extends the legs long and on the inhale bends the knees and roll the ball toward you. Move as slow as possible and remember to link the movement with the breath.

There a few more ways to strengthen the hamstrings but these are two of my favorites. Remember strengthening poses should not be done every day to allow repair to the muscle, but lengthening poses can and should be done every day.

Hamstring strength < quad strength

Quad flexibility < hamstring flexibility

The balance of strength and flexibility in the quads and hamstrings are important for balance as it affects the movement above as well as below and is an important piece in maintaining ease.
Next, we will look at ways to effectively lengthen the quads and how creating this flexibly in the quads may actually decrease hamstring injury as well as lessen the strain on the low back.


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