When you’re running short on time, you might be tempted to cut some corners in your workouts to get the most bang for your buck. Don’t skimp on the warmups, though. Warming up your muscles can go a long way in preventing injuries; your hamstrings, in particular, are prone to pulls or strains. This type of injury is quite painful and can put you out of commission for several weeks. The good news is that you can warm-up in about 10 minutes.
Bring your attention to your hamstrings and relieve muscular tension by rolling the backs of your thighs over tennis balls. Sit on the floor and place a tennis ball under your right thigh, near your buttocks. Roll your thigh over the ball, down and up all the way from your buttocks to your knee, using the tennis ball to release any knots in your muscles. You only need about one minute per leg, but this rolling feels so good, you might be tempted to spend a bit more time on it.
Complete a general warmup involving all of your large muscle groups. This will increase your core body temperature and prepare your body for the more specific hamstring warmups that follow. Choose an intensity level that will prepare you for your coming workout. For example, if you are going to be sprinting, taking your pet turtle for a walk won’t warm you up properly -- jogging would be a better choice. Likewise, if your main workout will be a brisk walk, use a slower walking pace to warm up your muscles. Five or 10 minutes is enough to warm up your large muscle groups.
Incorporate some dynamic movements that use your hamstrings. For example, swing one leg forward and backward in a controlled manner. Start with a low swing and increase the height of your leg with each successive swing. Or, you can do some butt kicks. While jogging, try to kick your buttocks with your heels. For a less-intense dynamic movement, do some inchworms. Start in a pushup position, and walk your feet toward your hands, keeping your legs straight. When you can’t move your feet any farther forward, walk your hands away from your feet.
- The Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma: Physical Therapy Corner -- Hamstring Pull (Strain)
- American Council on Exercise: A Detailed Guide to Designing Activity-Specific Warm-Up and Mobility Drills
- MayoClinic.com: Aerobic Exercise -- How to Warm Up and Cool Down
- BodyResults.com: The Outdoor Conditioning Warm-Up
- Stack.com: Prevent Hamstring Injuries with 3 Mobility Drills
- Exercise professionals in the past recommended static, or held, stretches as part of a warmup. While these stretches can help improve your flexibility, they are most beneficial when you do them after your muscles are warm. If you want to do static hamstring stretches, save them for your cool down.
- If you suffer from hamstring pain that does not improve with rest, you might have a serious injury that requires medical attention. Don’t be a martyr to the “no pain, no gain” cause. Seek the advice of your health care professional.
Kat Black is a professional writer currently completing her doctorate in musicology/ She has won several prestigious awards for her research, and has had extensive training in classical music and dance.