How to stretch your hamstrings.

Posted by & filed under Exercise and Training.

Legs up the wall is the most effective way of releasing out tight hamstrings.  This stretch can be followed by any other hamstring stretch – now virtually all hamstring stretches will become effective.

There is one critical point to get right.  In order for the hamstrings to let go, it is important to NOT feel a stretch in them.  If you feel your hamstrings with your hands when lying with them up the wall and they feel tight, you are too close to the wall.  There should be a slight sense of spring to them.  Hamstrings are full of stretch receptors, and when these fire, the muscle will automatically contract to save itself from being torn.  So any sense of stretch will mean the hamstrings will  remain tight even if you lie with them up the wall for ½ hour.  If you have the right position, the hamstrings will feel looser within a couple of minutes – just take the heel off the wall every so often and feel the difference in freedom of movement.  If there is none, you are too close.

The other 2 stretches are excellent to do in this position.  Virtually all of us are tight in the hips. Her instructions are good. When it comes to stretching the inner thighs, the first cobbler pose is excellent.  With the second option, legs straight and wide, once again this stretch will not happen if there is tension in the inner thighs – and there will be if the legs are not supported by the hands.  There has to be tension or the weight of the unsupported legs will tear the inner thigh muscles.

So when it comes to stretching, especially of the hamstrings, gentle is effective.  Harsh is a waste of time.  Incidentally if a muscle is sore the next day after a stretching session, it means it now has micro-tears in it.  This is not the same as stiff muscles after a workout -yes, they too will have micro tears in them, but because of the strengthening exercise stress, they will rebuild to be stronger.  Tears following excessive stretching make the muscle weaker.  So be nice to your hamstrings when stretching them and then they will get lovely and long.

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