The Hamstrings are a group of 3 muscles located in the back of the leg between the knee and the hip. Together they bend the knee and help to extend the leg backwards and so get used in almost all motions of locomotion; be it swimming, running or cycling. They are also muscles that are, unfortunately, particularly vulnerable to the ill effects of long periods of both sitting and standing. Over time, by pulling on the hip, they will often contribute to low back pain in addition to tightness of the muscles themselves. This makes them a most valuable muscle group to keep pliable through stretching.
So, we present to you The Seated Hamstring Stretch; To perform this stretch, sit with one leg extended and bring the other leg into a bent position so that it can relax as fully as possible. The exact position is not important only that it does not distract from the intended stretch. Then, bend forward at the waist trying to keep your back and knee as straight as possible so that the bending comes from the waist and hips. At your first point of resistance stop and take a couple of deep breaths. You should then find that the initial resistance has abated somewhat and you can continue bending forward into a deeper stretch. This process can be repeated a couple of times in a single session to achieve the most complete stretch. At the point of final resistance hold the stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds, making sure not to bounce at that point and also making sure there is no pain. Repeat for both sides.
photo by: www.kokophotos.com
NOTE: As with all stretches, do not perform if the movement is painful. First warm up the hips and low back with gentle hip circles in both directions to increase the range of motion and to prepare the tissue. You can also use a belt or scarf wrapped around the ball of your foot to pull your toes towards yourself to add the calf muscles. 2 for 1 stretch.