Feeling achy after sitting? Try these hamstring stretches!

Did you know that hamstring stretches can relieve and improve your health when sitting for a long time?

Hamstrings, a crucial muscle group, require regular stretching to boost flexibility, minimize injury risks and enhance athletic performance. These muscles are integral to the complex walking cycle, absorbing kinetic energy and safeguarding the knee and hip joints [1].

Beyond excessive sitting, activities like jogging, sports involving sprinting or abrupt movements (like football or tennis), inadequate pre-activity stretching, overuse and underuse can all contribute to tight hamstrings [2]. Tight hamstrings can tilt the pelvis backward, flattening the natural back arch and leading to subpar seated and standing postures [3].

Strengthening and stretching these muscles prevent tightness, providing crucial support to the back and pelvis and enabling better sitting and standing alignment. Being fast-twitch muscles with rapid contractions, hamstrings are susceptible to strain, especially during sudden bursts of energy without a proper warm-up, like dashing across the road or leaping to reach something [4]. During sprinting, these muscles contract rapidly and forcefully, heightening injury susceptibility.

Here are five effective hamstring stretches to try [5]:

1. Hamstring stretch with a band

Sit on the floor or bed, place a band around your foot’s sole and pull your toes towards you while straightening the leg. Feel the stretch in the calves and hamstrings. Hold for 30 seconds, repeating three times.

2. Hamstring foam roller stretch

Sit, placing a foam roller under your hamstrings with your feet off the ground. Use arms for balance and roll the roller along your hamstrings for a stretch. Cross your legs to focus the stretch on one side.

3. Hamstring chair stretch

Bend forward with legs straight and lean over the back of a chair. Hold and relax. Repeat as advised or hold for 30 seconds, repeating thrice.

4. Standing hamstring stretch

Stand and place a foot on a chair while keeping your leg straight. This delivers a stretch behind the knee and into the back of your thigh. Press the leg down or place your foot on something higher for a stronger stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, release, and repeat thrice on each side.

5. Sitting hamstring stretch

Sit on the edge of a chair, extend one leg in front, and lean forward while keeping your back straight. Feel the stretch in the back of the leg and calf. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three times.

These straightforward stretches significantly enhance flexibility and diminish injury risks. Incorporate them into your workout routine for maximum gains!

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4691307/
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3418114/
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4522442/
[4] https://blog.nasm.org/fitness/fast-twitch-vs-slow-twitch
[5] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323703

Photograph: bernardbodo/Envato
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