5 Best Hamstring Stretches To Relieve Pain, Prevent Injury, and More, Says a PT
If you find yourself with an aching lower back and out-of-whack posture, it may be a sign that your hamstrings are tight.
You may not think stiff hamstrings are the cause of your low back pain, but stiffness in those muscles can affect other areas including your back.
Hamstrings are the leg muscles that run through the back of your thigh from your hip to the knee joint. It’s the muscle that gets activated when getting up, climbing up the stairs, and lunging down.
It’s also one muscle group that’s connected to two different joints, affecting the health of your knees, hips, and back.
Needless to say, having these hamstring muscles stiff and tight can hinder everyday performance as well as cause pain in the knees, hips, and back.
But you can’t really stretch your hamstrings without stretching your hip flexors. These two muscles go hand in hand, and the flexibility of your hip flexors can determine how well you can stretch your hamstrings.
The hip flexors are a muscle group that’s made up of 5 different muscles. One of which is poas muscles.
They are the muscles of the spine, running from the lumbar spine to the thigh bone called the femur.
Activation of these muscles enables movements like forward flexion, hinging at the hips, and moving sideways.
When these muscles get properly stretched, you also get a good hamstring stretch.
But the tightness in the psoas muscles can mean the development of anterior pelvis tilt. It’s a poor posture that has a tilted pelvis, which brings difficulty straightening your back. It can also lead to tension in the hamstrings.
When you understand the importance of stretching both the hamstrings and hip flexors, you can start to build a healthier body.
It can also help you achieve your peak athletic performance and better everyday movements. You’ll also reap the benefits of pain prevention and relief.
Here are 5 stretches you need for tight hamstrings and hip flexors.
5 Stretches For Tight Hamstrings and Hip Flexors
1. Floor Hamstring Stretch
- Lie down face up on a mat with your hands on your side and legs straight.
- Lift the left leg up over your body and hold the leg with your hands just behind the knee.
- Gently pull the leg toward your chest until you feel the stretch in your hamstring.
2. Half Pigeon Stretch
- Begin in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Bring the right leg forward. Rotate your lower leg so that your right knee comes toward your right wrist, your right ankle behind your left wrist.
- Gently place the right lower leg on the mat. If your hips are already open, your right shin may be parallel to the shorter edge of your mat, with your foot just behind your left wrist. If your hip joint is tighter, your shin may be more at an angle, with your front ankle placed somewhere in front of your left hip and behind your left wrist.
- Be mindful of any feelings of discomfort in your right knee here. If you have any pain issues in your knee, try the Reclined Pigeon version of this pose. Reclined pigeon pose
- Keep the left leg extending back, with the top of the foot on your mat.
- Place your hands on either side of your legs and come up onto your fingertips. As you inhale, lengthen the spine and reach the crown of your head up towards the sky.
- On your exhale, walk your hands forward, bringing your forearms to the floor. Drop your forehead towards the floor and relax the back of your neck.
- After several slow breaths, bring your hands to your mat in front of your front shin. Straighten your arms, lift your torso, and press yourself back into a tabletop position. Repeat Pigeon Pose on your left side
3. The World’s Greatest Stretch
- Get into a high-plank position with your hands on the floor and feet fully extended to the back. Keeping your core and glutes engaged, bring your right foot forward and place it next to your right hand.
- With control, bring your right hand over, right above your head while pressing your left hand into the ground. Feel your chest open and shoulder blades squeezed while your front thigh and back hamstring feel the stretch. Tilt your head up towards the ceiling to gaze at the lifted right hand. Hold the position for a few seconds before returning.
- Repeat on the opposite side and hold the last pose. Alternate sides and repeat several times.
4. Hip Flexor Stretch
- Kneel on your affected leg and bend your good leg out in front of you. Plant the foot flat on the floor.
- If you feel discomfort in the front of your knee, place a towel under your knee or perform this on a yoga mat.
- Keeping your back straight, slowly push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in the upper thigh of your back leg and hip.
- Hold the stretch for at least 15 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat 2 to 4 times.
5. Glute Bridge
- Start on your back on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your feet flat and rest your hands at your sides.
- Pressing the pelvis into the floor, lift your hips off the floor until your knees, glutes, and shoulders are in a straight line. Be sure not to overextend your back and squeeze your glutes while pressing up the pelvis.
- Hold your bridge position for 1-2 seconds before returning to the start position. Compete for 8-10 reps for the dynamic glute bridge.
- To perform the bridge hold, hold the top position for longer and complete fewer reps.
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