Your upper legs are composed of three major muscles including the quadriceps in the front, the adductors on the inner leg and the hamstrings at the back of your leg. If one of these muscle groups is weaker than the others, you risk straining or injuring it during exercise. To prevent injury to your hamstrings, you can perform a series of alternating leg stretches that loosen up the muscles and connective tissue, leaving you limber and ready for exercise.
Warm up your hamstrings from a standing position, with your feet slightly apart. Extend one leg out in front of you, but keep your heel on the ground. Keep your back straight and bend at the waist down toward your extended foot. While your extended leg should remain straight, your standing leg can bend slightly at the knee. Hold when you feel the hamstring of the extended leg stretch gently. Remain in the bent position for 30 counts, then stand and switch legs. Repeat three times for each leg.
Stretch your hamstrings from a seated position in a chair. Sit toward the front of the chair with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent, in line with your hips. Extend one leg out with your heel still touching the floor. With a straight back, bend slowly toward the toes of your extended foot. If you feel unbalanced, you can rest your hands on the top of your thighs. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then straighten. Alternate sides and repeat the stretch for three reps.
Slide onto the floor into a seated position. Extend your right leg straight in front of you with your toes pointed toward the ceiling. Bend at your left knee and bring your left foot toward you, resting the flat of your foot against your inner right thigh. Keeping your back straight, lean slowly toward your right toe. Stop when you feel a gentle pull. Hold the stretch without bouncing for 30 seconds. Slowly straighten and alternate sides. Repeat for three repetitions.
Get your hamstrings ready for a workout through the lying-down hamstring stretch. Begin flat on your back with your right leg extended on the floor and your left leg bent with the left foot flat on the floor. Point the toes of your right foot and slowly lift that extended leg off the floor, until you feel a slight pull in your right hamstring. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch legs. Repeat three times.
Joelle Dedalus began writing professionally for websites such as PugetSoundMagazine.com in 2009. She received her B.A. in English education at Iowa State University and is currently a M.F.A. candidate in creative nonfiction writing at Emerson College in Boston, where she is developing a manuscript on literary travel. Her areas of expertise include travel and literature, the outdoors and the arts.