4 Stretches For Tight Hamstrings

June 15, 2018

4 Stretches for Tight HamstringsAnyone who has spent time on a bike understands how tight and sore the hamstrings can feel after a long ride.  These muscles help with every pedal stroke, so they get overworked quite easily.  Try these moves as a warm-up before you get on your bike, or after to help with recovery.

It’s also important to note that if your hamstrings (or any other muscles) are constantly “tight,”  it may be worth looking for a root cause of why they feel that way.  For example, if your hamstrings are stiff because they are overworked and tired on most rides, stretching is great for short-term relief but strengthening is probably a better long-term solution.   

General Considerations:

  • Never push through pain or a “stuck” sensation
  • Some of these moves are “dynamic”, meaning they use movement and repetitions to lengthen the muscles.  Take the first few repetitions carefully, paying attention to what is tight or sore.   
  • LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!  Modify movements for your specific needs.

 

1| Downward dog (15-30 seconds):   This yogi favorite is great for stretching the hamstrings, back, and shoulders.

  • Start on hands and knees
  • Straighten arms and knees in order to push hips up in the air

Tips:

    • Keep the knees slightly bent and heels off the ground
      • For a bonus calf stretch, alternate pushing one heel down towards the ground, then the other (see below)
    • Bend at the hips; don’t round the low back
    • Lengthen the spine from the shoulders down to the tailbone
    • Pull shoulder blades down and back to support the shoulders and neck
    • Repeat 2-3 times as needed (as mentioned before- listen to your body!)

 

 2| Single leg deadlift (2 sets of 10 each leg):  Great for flexibility imbalances between legs. 

  • Stand on one leg with knee slightly bent
  • Bend at the hips, reaching arms toward floor and extending opposite leg behind you

Tips:

  • Stand next to a wall or in front of a table to help with balance
  • Bend at the hips and keep spine straight — don’t slump or round the low back
  • Knee of the stance leg can stay bent throughout the movement

3| Inchworm (10 times,: pause/hold each step 3 seconds)

  • Step 1:  walk hands down to the ground, keeping knees bent as comfortable
  • Step 2:  continue walking hands forward, lowering into a plank position
  • Step 3:  walk feet up towards hands (knees bent)
  • Step 4:  walk hands halfway up legs to a flat-back position     

4| Supine 90-90 stretch (2 sets of 10 each leg; 3 second hold):

  • Lie on back, holding leg below the knee
  • Straighten knee until a stretch is felt; hold; bend knee

Tips:

  • Thigh should stay perpendicular to rest of the body – don’t bring the knee close to the face

 

We hope these simple, do-anywhere, stretches help keep your hamstrings loose and riding enjoyable! As always, feel free to comment below or shoot us a message if you have any questions/concerns!

 

 

This post was written by:
Carol Mack, DPT, SCS, CSCS. Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Sports Certified Specialist.
Former NCAA Division I soccer player. 15 years coaching experience.  Member US Olympic Committee Medical Network.  Chair, Female Athlete Special Interest Group (American Physical Therapy Association).  Runner, yogi, CrossFitter, fitness enthusiast. Go check her out!

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