Hamstring Stretches

Hamstring stretching exercises can be done for a number of reasons including rehabilitation from hamstring injury, lengthening tight hamstrings which may be a potential injury risk in the future or as part of a warm up to help reduce the risk of hamstring injury during a training session. View hamstring rehab stretching exercises for hamstring strain recovery.

Below we describe a number of different types of hamstring stretches. Static hamstring stretches are where the stretch is held at the limit of flexibility for a period of time. These are popular in warm up activities and cool down stretching but also have a place in rehab.

Dynamic hamstring stretches involve a swinging movement and are excellent for warm up stretching and developmental stretching to increase the length of the hamstrings. PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) involves contracting and relaxing the muscle as part of the stretch. The best hamstring stretches for you will likely depend on your aims and expected outcomes.

Standing hamstring stretch Standing hamstring stretch

 

Static hamstring stretch where the athlete uses an object to rest the leg on then lean forward to stretch the hamstring muscles at the back of the thigh. Good for when the floor is cold or wet.

Stretch using wall Stretch using wall

 

A wall can be used to help stretch the hamstring muscles. The leg is rested against the wall and the athlete relaxes into the stretch holding for a 10 to 30 seconds.

Seated hamstring stretches Seated hamstring stretches

 

One of the simplest and most popular hamstring stretching exercises. Turning the foot inwards or outwards while performing it can target different parts of the muscle.

 

Partner hamstring stretch Partner hamstring stretch

 

Using a partner to assist in the stretch the athlete can relax into the stretch and allow the partner to gently increase the stretch when comfortable to do so.

Hamstring stretch on back Hamstring stretch on back

 

An important hamstring rehab stretch. Performed with a bent knee which is then straightened targets the fibres nearer the knee. An initial straight leg targets fibres higher in the muscle.

Dynamic hamstring stretching

 

Dynamic hamstring stretching involves a gentle swinging motion of the leg. The theory is that themuscles spindles which sense speed of movement in a muscle will gradually allow the muscle to lengthen.

 

Performing 10 swings of the leg each time trying to work the leg a little higher will increase flexibility. It is thought static exercises alone are not sufficient in a warm up as the muscle may be happy to stretch to a certain length slowly but when asked to stretch at speed as in a real sporting situation the muscle spindle sensors prevent excess movement they are not familiar with.

PNF Hamstrings

 

PNF or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation is a form of stretching the hamstring muscles which involves contracting the muscles in a stretched position for a period of time (from 10 to 30 seconds) then relaxing the muscle and allowing the stretch to increase. The contraction is then repeated a handful of times until no more flexibility increases are achieved.

 

This form of stretching again works with the muscles proprioceptors or sensors to help increase the stretch on the muscle. It is also thought as the muscle builds strength (cross bridges in sliding filament theory) the nervous system allows the muscle to stretch further.

 

This type of stretching is advanced and usually done under the supervision of a trainer or therapist.