“My hamstrings are always tight.” This is a constant for most of us whether you are deadlifting, running or doing almost any other activity we tend to overuse our hamstrings then sit for hours. This tightens them up with minimal to no stretching. We used to be forced to stretch before gym class and before any sport practice. What happened and why didn’t we keep up with that stretching? Work, life, family, stretching is dull, whatever the reason we all need to get back into stretching to get our hamstrings back to supple, flexible muscles.
There is no better time to get back into it than right now. Really you should do a quick hamstring stretch right now… Then read on and we will get into tips and tricks to keep up with a program that will keep you interested and show changes fast. The focus of this is stretching but getting into the muscle and rolling it out is always a good idea as well. As with anything you do you need a test/retest to make sure you are getting the changes that you want, as well as to find out what exercise is the most effective way for you to get those changes. Here is an easy “straight back toe touch” that is a great way to get a start. Make sure the back is flat and reach as far forward as you can while maintaining the flat back. Then make a note of where your fingertips got to.
Test/retest- back flat stretch
Now that we have a baseline we can get into the fun stuff. Stretches can be varied in type and style. Static holds are the classic style. Personally these are not my favorite purely due to getting bored with a 2-min hold. I prefer a more ballistic style with 10-15 second holds with the total time around 2 min of stretching. I stay interested since it keeps me. You can also vary the type of stretch. Having multiple types of stretches that you can do is a huge help especially when the environment changes. For me it is easy to stretch while lying on the floor. If you are out getting ready for a run and the ground is wet, you might want to go with a standing stretch. Here are some of my favorite variations of hamstring stretches.
High Hamstring stretch
If stretching is a tough routine, rolling out may be more your style. This is a great way to break up muscle adhesions and get blood flow into the muscle which can create some length in the muscles. Here are 2 of my favorite examples.
With these exercises, it is always a great idea to follow them up with a functional activity to help keep the changes that you just created. Hopefully the exercise will be similar to the activity that you will be doing. If you are going to deadlift, perform some ballistic stretching then get out a band and do some RDL’s. Inch worms are a great way to get a dynamic hamstring warm up as well as a stretch.
Remember that you should do the test/retest to make sure that you are getting the changes that you want. With any stretching/mobility program consistency is the most important factor. Stretching should be done daily with a minimum of 5x per week. Remember to try and keep it interesting and fun this will help you stick to your stretching. Getting friends, family and gym buddies involved is another great way to stay