Benefits of Hamstring Stretches

Stretching your hamstrings can reduce lower-back pain and improve posture.
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Everyone suffers from tight hamstrings from time to time. If your job involves sitting for extended periods of time or your posture is less than perfect, you might have tight hamstrings more often than not. Stretching your hamstrings when you feel tightness during the day and incorporating hamstring stretches into your regular fitness routine can provide a number of important physical benefits.

Injury Prevention

One of the main benefits of hamstring stretching is injury prevention, especially if you're an athlete. Your hamstrings attach to your pelvis by your sitting bones. If your hamstrings are tight, they can pull your pelvis down, increasing your risk of throwing your back, hips or knees out of alignment during times of physical activity. In her book, "The Runner's Yoga Book," author and yoga instructor Jean Couch explains that properly stretching your hamstrings can alleviate many common knee complaints and increase knee mobility. Limber hamstrings can keep your hips and back in proper alignment and reduce the likelihood of many common hamstring injuries.

Increased Flexibility

Stretching your hamstrings can increase flexibility and improve your range of motion in your joints, according to endurance sports coach Bob Kaehler. Improved hamstring flexibility means you will be able to perform everyday activities, like climbing stairs, lifting or bending over, with greater ease. Flexible hamstrings can also help increase the length of your stride and speed and improve your form while running or walking.

Improved Posture

Tight hamstrings are one of the primary causes of poor posture. Sedentary lifestyles, a poor seated posture and a lack of activity can cause your hamstrings to become shortened and tense, leading to chronic hamstring tightness. When your hamstrings are perpetually tight, your pelvis pulls forward, causing the natural arch in your lower back to become flattened. It's a vicious cycle, because your hamstrings adapt to this postural abnormality in your lower back by becoming shorter. Poor seated posture leads to shortened hamstrings, and tight hamstrings lead to a poor seated posture. Stretching your hamstrings can help break this cycle and enable you to sit up straighter and taller with ease.

Reduced Back Pain

Inflexible hamstrings are a common cause of lower-back pain and conditions like sciatica. When your pelvic range of motion is compromised due to tight hamstrings, your bottom lumbar spine tries to compensate, resulting in increased stress on your lower back, according to Dr. Peter F. Ullrich, Jr. in an article for Spine-Health. This ultimately causes more frequent episodes of lower-back pain, limits your range of motion and increases your chance of developing back spasms. Stretching your hamstrings can help rehabilitate and reduce the likelihood of lower-back pain and associated conditions.

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