Stretching is the key to keeping your hamstrings fit and injury free.
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The hamstrings are the largest group of muscles on the back of your legs. When they're injured, running, walking and sometimes even bearing weight can be, well, unbearable. A pulled hamstring can pretty much bring your fitness routine to a standstill, but regular stretching will keep them flexible. Dynamic hamstring stretches have two benefits: They loosen and stretch your muscles and they warm up your body for exercise. Static stretches are best after a workout, when your muscles are already warm. After strenuous exercise, static stretching can help cool you down and bring your heart rate back to normal.
Skip in place to loosen up all of the muscles in your legs, including your hamstrings. Lift your knees high, as close to your chest as possible. This will lengthen the hamstrings and stretch the backs of your legs from the buttocks to the knees. Aim for 20 to 40 skips. Add a wide arm swing for extra dynamic stretching in the chest, shoulders and arms.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, keeping most of your weight on your left foot. Hold onto a bench, counter or sturdy table for balance. Swing your right leg in front of you as high as you can, with the knee bent at about a 30-degree angle. Swing your right leg back behind you and bend your knee to about 90 degrees, so that the bottom of your foot is pointed toward your buttocks. Repeat for 15 to 30 swings on each leg.3.
Plant your feet shoulder-width apart and bend forward at the waist until your hands are hanging near the floor or are resting on it. Bend your knees until your hands are flat on the floor, and carefully walk your hands out in front of you until you are in a basic pushup position. Walk your hands back until your feet are near your hands again. Repeat five to 10 times.
Lie on your back with your left knee bent and your right leg straight. Lift your right leg up, toes pointing to the ceiling. Flex your foot until your toes are pointing toward your head. Keep your knee straight and focus on pushing your leg toward your head for a deep hamstring stretch. Do two repetitions, each lasting 30 seconds, and then switch legs.2.
Sit up and stick your right leg out in front of you. Keep your left knee bent and your left heel pointed at your groin. Walk your hands down your right leg and grasp your ankle -- or the ball of your foot or your calf, depending on your level of flexibility. Keep your back straight and do three repetitions, each lasting 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat on your left leg.3.
Stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your left knee at about a 30- degree angle and straighten your right leg in front of you, with your heel resting on the floor and your toes pointing toward the ceiling. Bend your left knee more for a deeper stretch in your right hamstring. Do two to four repetitions, each lasting 15 to 30 seconds, and then switch legs.
- Always consult your physician before beginning an exercise regime.