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How to Do Hamstring Stretches

Learn how to do hamstring stretches in this Howcast video about physical therapy exercises for the knees.


Hi. My name is Eric Sampson, and I want to spend a couple of minutes talking about how to properly do a hamstring stretch. The hamstring muscle is really a generic term to describe a group of muscles in the back of your leg running from your ischial tuberosity, it's called, in your pelvis all the way down to the back of your knee to the lower leg bone called the tibia, and therefore it actually has an action on both your hip and your knee. Therefore, when you stretch it, you have to account for both.

The hamstring muscle is a muscle that tends to get very tight in not only the exercise population but the sedentary population as well. Sitting at a desk or sitting at a computer for long hours can put the knee tendons or the hamstring tendons on slack for most of the day because your knee has spent most of the day at 90 degrees. So it eventually gets a little tighter, a little tighter with prolonged sitting. So it's a constant uphill battle trying to release the tension in your hamstrings.

So with the hamstring muscle, you're really worried about both the knee position as well as the hip position. So why don't you come and lie down. The first thing you want to do is bend knee. This is kind of to protect your lower back. The best way to stretch your hamstrings is probably going to be in lying because you can relax your back and your other leg.

Using a yoga strap or a belt or strap like this can also work. What you want to do is hold both ends. The key is to try to keep your knee as straight as possible and really try to focus on keeping it straight. The other key is to try to keep your lower back in what's called a neutral spine or a little bit of a lordosis. If you flatten out the lower back, it's going to change the pull for the hamstring. As soon as we increase the lordosis of your lower back, it really dramatically increases the pull.

So again, give it a try. Come on up. When she's in this position, she should hopefully feel a stretch in the back of the middle of her thigh here, and it should be moderate in intensity, something that she can withstand for about 20 seconds. Then she can lower her leg back down.

A best plan would be to stretch it daily, about 1 to 2 times per day if it's very, very tight, and again to hold it for about 20 seconds.

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