The hamstrings are responsible for propelling legs forward, pulling them back, and flexing knees. And what do they get in return? Often painful pulls and tears. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?
If you have been inactive for a length of time, or if you’ve had any recent surgery or physical problems, particularly of the muscles and joints, please consult your doctor before you start a stretching or exercise program.
Step 1: Lie on back
Lie on your back with your legs stretched out in front of you.
Step 2: Grab knee & pull
Slowly bend your right knee up. Grab the back of your thigh just above that knee with both hands and pull it slowly toward your chest.
Step 3: Relax arms
Relax your arms a bit so that your right knee is pointing straight up and your thigh is perpendicular to your torso and the floor.
Step 4: Straighten leg & hold
Straighten your right leg so it’s pointing toward the ceiling, and hold for 10-15 seconds.
If you can’t fully straighten your leg, just go as far as you can. With time and repetition you will become more flexible.
Step 5: Bend right knee
Bend your right knee for 5 seconds and then straighten again. Repeat this cycle 3 times.
If you’re able to straighten your knee fully without lifting your hip or contorting your back, pull your thigh toward your chest an inch or two, so that it is a little beyond the perpendicular.
Step 6: Release stretch
Release the stretch slowly by bending your right knee and extending your right leg straight out in front of you.
Step 7: Repeat on left leg
Bend your left knee up and repeat the stretch on your left leg, holding it for the same duration and the same number of repetitions as the right leg.
Step 8: Release stretch
Release the stretch slowly by bending your left knee and extending your left leg straight out in front of you. You’ve never even thought about sending your hamstrings a thank you note, have you?
Step 1: Place heel on step
Stand in front of a step, shift your weight to your slightly bent left leg, and place your right heel onto the step. Keep your right knee slightly bent.
You can also do this with a rock, a ledge, a chair that’s against a wall for stability, or your desk at the office—use anything that’s stable and at a comfortable height.
Step 2: Bend & straighten
Bending at the hips and keeping your back straight, bring your torso forward and straighten your right leg until you feel a comfortable tension.
Step 3: Hold leg
Hold your leg with both hands for support.
Step 4: Hold stretch
Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds. If it hurts, back off a bit or you may actually tighten the muscles you want to stretch.
Step 5: Press further & hold
Press slightly further into the stretch—again, it shouldn’t hurt—and hold for up to another 30 seconds.
Step 6: Come to a stand
Carefully straighten your torso, remove your right foot from the step, and come to standing.
Step 7: Repeat on left leg
Shift your weight to your right leg, place your left heel onto the step, and repeat the stretch on your left leg.
Step 8: Come to a stand
Carefully straighten your torso, remove your left foot from the step, and come to standing. And the best part? Totally kosher.