Don't let a hamstring spasm slow down your run. Alleviate your discomfort with gentle stretches. Hamstrings are vital to running since the muscle brings the leg behind the body and bends the knee. You'll know when you've used your hamstrings too much because they'll contract, tighten and spasm. Since the hamstrings are the culprit for the spasm, they're the muscle you should stretch to bring relief.
Your muscle spasm occurs during running, so your legs are already warm. You don't want to stretch a cold muscle, as you could do more harm than good. If the spasm appears out of the blue, walk around for five minutes before you stretch. A stretch works best when you hold still and don't bounce. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat two to four times for the best relief. Remember to breathe normally as you stretch and relax your hamstrings. Maintain the stretch for your desired duration, then rest for one minute and repeat.
One way to stretch the hamstrings is lying in a face-up position. If you are outside for a run, use either the standing or seated option, unless you don't mind lying on the ground. Your nonaffected leg is bent with your foot flat on the floor. Your affected leg is bent toward your chest with your hands on the back of the leg. Slowly extend your aching leg up and straighten your knee until you feel the stretch in your hamstring.
You can stretch your hamstring from a seated position, which supports your affected leg while you stretch. Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Bend your nonaffected leg and place the foot of that leg against the inner thigh of the other. Slowly walk your hands toward the ankle of your affected leg until you feel the stretch in your hamstrings. For a greater stretch, keep your back straight and press your chest toward the top of your leg.
The standing hamstring stretch is the best option if you are outside running and your hamstring spasms. Position the foot of your affected leg approximately 2 feet in front of the opposite foot. Your heel is on the ground and your toes are pointing up toward the sky. Support most of your weight in the nonaffected leg and rest your hands on the thigh of this leg. Press your chest toward your affected leg as you lean forward until you feel the stretch in the hamstring. You can also elevate your foot onto a bench or curb for a deeper stretch.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.