Wednesday, February 12, 2014

3 simple, awesome hamstring stretches

I have been meaning to write this post for ages, and was reminded of that intention by a reader comment the other day requesting some stretches for the back of the knee. As you might know, that big old hamstring muscle attaches at the back of the knee, so here are a few stretches to help you get into that tight area.

There are lots of ways to do this, but I like these ones because they are simple, straightforward, and safe on the back, which many hamstring stretches are not. I don't think any additional descriptions are required, but if you have any questions, just ask in the comments! And don't forget to let me know if there are any things that YOU'd like to see covered on the blog. Enjoy!

[NB: Knee pain, especially from bent knees, can be a symptom of wear to the knees' precious, protective cartilage. If you experience joint pain in your knees - and especially if you are high risk for cartilage damage, e.g. you are a runner or have a history of being overweight - you should definitely see your doctor! These stretches will ease muscular tension only.]

(click to see a larger image)

(click to see a larger image)

[For the anatomy geeks: These stretches are based on the principle of isometric muscle activation. Essentially, in the body's everyday movement, muscles work in pairs: when the quadriceps (thigh muscles) contract, the hamstrings lengthen. So, by strongly contracting the thigh muscles in short bursts, we encourage the hamstrings to lengthen. It's a great, no-pressure way of stretching.]

7 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for these. Much appreciated.

    Couple of questions:

    1) I am complete beginner to Yoga. Can you please let me know what the band you are using is called and what brand is worth buying?

    2) Sorry to bug you with requests, but if you could do a post on posture exercises and neck exercises (probably from sitting in the office all day opposite a computer) that would be great.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another questions:
    I tried the chair hamstring stretches. I feel it a lot above the calf (just below the knee). Is that where I am meant to feel it or am I doing it totally wrong?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Brad,

      You're welcome! :)

      In answer to your question 1) above, the strap I am using is a yoga strap. It's a great prop to have, and you should be able to get one at any yoga studio or online retailer. If you buy one at a generic sports store look for a cloth band that is non-elastic. You can also just use a towel.

      2) It's always a pleasure to get requests! I also have a desk job so I know exactly what you mean. I'll definitely put this request on my list.

      With regard to the chair stretches, there is really no 'right' and 'wrong' with stretching. You will feel it where you have tightness, and that's different for everyone. That said, what you are feeling sounds about right to me. You're stretching the bottom part of the hamstring muscle, which attaches to your leg just below the knee. It's a nice complement to the other stretches which stretch the hamstring higher up on the back of the thigh.

      Delete
  3. Thanks again La Gitane. The exercises that you give are great. They are easy, do not take too long and are very effective. I look forward to the neck and shoulder/posture exercises :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Brad - it took me a while, but I hope you enjoy the neck and shoulder exercises! Here they are: http://yogagypsy.blogspot.com/2014/06/7-stretches-for-shoulders-you-can-do-at.html

      Delete
  4. Thanks for the tutorial. Very easy and gives refreshes me

    ReplyDelete