Stretching muscles is a key part of any well-rounded fitness routine. Your biceps femoris is one of your hamstring muscles on the back part of your thigh. If you're a slave to your desk job or just spend more time than you'd like sitting, there's a good chance you have tight hamstrings. When you sit in a chair, your hamstrings are held in a shortened position -- and tighten up over time. Tight hamstrings make your legs uncomfortable -- and are often the nasty culprit of lower back pain. Nip tight hamstrings in the bud with some simple stretches.
Seated Toe Touch
Sit on the floor with both your legs straight out in front of you and your back straight. Imagine that you are being pulled upwards by an imaginary string on the top of your head to give you perfect, straight posture.
Exhale and ease into stretch. As you breathe out, gently hinge forward from the hips and reach towards your toes. Keep your torso straight and avoid hunching over. It’s OK if there's a very slight bend in your knees, but they should remain mostly straight throughout the movement.
Hold and increase the stretch. Hold the toe-touch position for 10 to 30 seconds while breathing normally. Every time you exhale, gently lean forward just a little more to deepen the stretch. Sit back up and repeat the stretch a few more times.
Lying Hamstring Stretch
Lie down on the floor with your legs out straight. Keep your lower back in contact with the floor by pressing it down to eliminate any gaps.
Raise one leg toward the ceiling until it is perpendicular to the floor. Your leg should be fairly straight with your toes flexed upward toward your face. Keep your other leg should straight on the floor to provide stability.
Grasp the upper part of your raised leg with both hands and pull it in toward your chest. Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds -- and focus on deepening the stretch along the entire back of your leg. Switch to your other leg and repeat.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Stand with your feet about hip width apart. Avoid locking your knees by keeping them bent just a little.
Bend forward from your hips. While keeping your spine straight, hinge forward from your hips and bring your torso down toward the floor. Reach your hands as far as you can toward your toes.
Deepen the stretch. Take deep breathes and gradually allow the weight of your upper body to fall forward more and more. If you wish to deepen the stretch further, tense up your quads to act as a counter pull on the backs of your legs.
- If you can’t reach your toes, place your hands on your shins or as far as you are able to reach. Don’t force anything, but gradually increase your flexibility by consistently stretching over time.
- It’s never good to stretch a cold muscle, as the stretches aren’t as effective and your risk of injury is greater. Warm up your muscles and increase your heart rate with a little easy cardio such as five minutes of jogging, biking or brisk walking. It shouldn’t be intense, but you should work up a little sweat.
- Stretches should feel slightly uncomfortable, but they should never cross the line to painful. Don’t risk straining a muscle by overdoing a stretch.
Jilana Dennis is a health and fitness writer based out of San Antonio, Texas. Dennis is a nationally certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise and holds a B.S in exercise science from Illinois State University.