Your hamstrings are the three muscles that run down the back of your thigh. They are the semitendinosus, semimembranosus and the biceps femoris. These muscles allow you to bend your knee and extend your leg backwards. Hamstring injuries, commonly referred to as a “pulled hamstring,” are common among athletes. Keeping these muscles flexible and strong help support your knee and reduce the risk of injury. While strengthening exercises will make your muscles stronger, stretching your hamstrings is also important. To perform these exercises, you do not need any special exercise machines.
Standing Hamstring Curl
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your toes pointing forward and your arms at your side.
As you exhale, slowly bend your left knee and bring your heel toward your buttocks. Keep you left thigh aligned with your right thigh. Hold for a few seconds.
As you inhale, slowly lower your leg and return to the starting position. Repeat this with the right leg. Complete five to 10 repetitions with each leg.
Prone Hamstrings Curl
Lie on the floor on your stomach with your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands underneath your head.
As you exhale, bend your left knee up and bring your heel toward your buttocks. Keep your thigh on the floor.
As you inhale, slowly return your leg back to the starting position. Repeat with the right leg. Complete five to 10 repetitions with each leg.
Supine Hamstrings Stretch
Lie on you back next to the corner of a wall. Bend your right leg and place the right foot on the floor near the wall. Extend your left leg out straight and resting against the wall so that it is at a 90-degree angle. Extend your arms out to your side with your palms up.
As you exhale, straighten your left knee by contracting the muscles in your front thigh. Flex your toes down toward your body. You should feel this stretch in your calves and hamstrings. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
As you inhale, release the stretch and relax your leg against the wall. Do this two to four times and them switch leg positions and stretch your right leg.
Items you will need
- Ankle weights or resistance bands (optional)
- As your hamstrings get stronger, you can add ankle weights or use resistance bands. The increased resistance in the hamstring curls will help to build strength.
- Consult your physician before you begin any new exercise program. This is very important if you have had previous hamstring injuries or suffer with joint damage in your knees.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Hamstring Muscle Injuries
- American Council on Exercise: ACE Lists Top Ten Reasons to Stretch
- American Council on Exercise: Standing Hamstrings Curl
- American Council on Exercise: Prone (Lying) Hamstring Curl
- American Council on Exercise: Supine Hamstrings Stretch
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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