Eccentrically stretching your hamstrings encourages them to lengthen.
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Muscles that remain constricted after lifting heavy objects or weight equipment may be required to be stretched with external resistance to be loosened and reconditioned. This form of stretching is called eccentric stretching and is especially helpful for large muscles like your hamstrings. Your hamstrings support up to 80 percent of your total body weight and can be prone to injury when not properly stretched or when overexerted. Eccentrically stretching your hamstrings allows them to be targeted at a deeper level, allowing for increased flexibility and circulation.
Eccentric stretching, also called eccentric training, involves strengthening your muscles through the application of external pressure during their elongation phase. When you raise your leg to run or walk, your hamstrings contract. When you lower your leg, they lengthen. If someone applies resistance to your leg as you lower it, your hamstrings are encouraged to lengthen, promoting greater muscle flexibility and durability. Over time, your muscles are able to endure greater levels of stimulation during the stretching phase, which is especially beneficial during activities or sports where high-impact resistance is a norm, such as sprinting, cycling or tennis.
Barbell good-mornings eccentrically target your hamstrings while stimulating your gluteus maximus and lower back. Perform them by positioning a barbell on the back of your shoulders and grasping both sides. Keep your back straight as you bend your hips to lower your torso forward until you feel a mild stretch in your hamstrings. Slowly raise your torso toward the starting position.
Barbell Straight-Leg Deadlifts
Barbell straight-leg deadlifts provide a strong eccentric stretch for your hamstrings. Stand straight with your legs shoulder-width apart, with your feet beneath a lightly-weighted barbell. Keep your lower back straight as you bend your knees and grasp the barbell with an overhand grip. Lift the barbell, straightening your knees and back. Lower the barbell by bending at your hips but keeping your knees straight. Continue to lower the barbell until your hips can no longer flex as the bar approaches the top of your feet. Pause for 2 seconds and then lift the barbell by extending your waist and hips until you are standing straight.
Eccentrically stretching your hamstrings is an effective way of keeping your thigh muscles flexible and strong; however, care should be taken to avoid undue stress or injury. Perform each stretch in a slow and controlled manner. Avoid quick or exaggerated movements to prevent hamstring tear or strain. Beginners should start with a very light weight and then add additional weight gradually to allow your lower back adequate time to adapt and strengthen.