Top 5 exercises to improve your hamstring flexibility
To give you a more graphic idea of the role of these muscles, it is best to resort to an example: when you try to stretch to touch the tip of your feet, do your hands manage to get there or only to a little further below the knees?
Well, if your answer is the second, it is a serious sign that you need to perform a few mobility exercises and stretches that allow you to increase the flexibility of the hamstrings.
How to test hamstring flexibility?
Most people who have sedentary jobs usually end the day feeling stiffness in their back and legs. Hamstring muscles play an important role in this, and a simple elasticity test can show you how serious the issue is.
The goal of this test is to evaluate the stretching ability of the nerves and muscles in your lower back and back thigh (where your hamstrings are). To run it successfully follow these steps:
- He starts lying on the floor on his back on his back straight, arms on his sides and legs straight and outstretched.
- Raise a single leg as much as you can, but always keeping it in a straight line, that is: without bending the knee or ankle.
- Take a look for a person to look at you while you run the exercise, to know if you manage to raise it above 70 °.
- If your leg doesn't reach at least 70° (and you don't have any recent injuries) it's a sign that your hamstrings are stiff, and that they need to stretch.
5 exercises to increase hamstring flexibility
1. Fence stretching
- Start (standing or sitting) leaving one leg behind while stretching the other forward in a straight line in front of you.
- Lean forward from your hips, putting pressure on your buttocks and trying to bring your belly button as close as possible to your knee.
- Hold the sole of the foot with both hands, exerting a slight pressure on you. Don't double from your spine to reach your feet.
- Hold the posture for about 30 seconds and then switch sides.
- Run three repetitions of the exercise on each side.
2. Advanced proprioceptive neuromucular stretching
Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching (FNP) mixes muscle contraction and relaxation in a demanding way, capable of really improving the flexibility of your hamstrings.
- Start face up, raising one leg at an angle of 90° and keeping the other down.
- Increase the stretch by holding the leg from the sole of the foot with a strap, the ends of which you will hold one in each hand, exerting pressure so that the leg bends a little towards you.
- Hold the position for 3 or 10 seconds, depending on your resistance. Relax a little and then repeat again.
- Perform the exercise about three times with each leg.
3. Squat and Hip Lift
For this exercise you will need a cane or plastic support tube. On the other hand, it is important that by running more and more exercises, you increase your stretching range: experts indicate that the flexibility provided by stretching exercises lasts, immediately, at least 6 minutes, so take advantage of it.
- Run 3 sets of 10 traditional squats or squats, interspersing in each series 10 hip stretches, supporting you with the support stick.
- For stretching, you'll place the tube on your back, holding it with one hand at each end, to help you keep the spine in a neutral position.
- It is important that in stretches, the back stays straight,and you get as low as you can without bending at any time.
4. Leg stretching with compressed abdomen
For some people, applying moderate weight to one muscle area can help their other muscles, such as hamstrings, let go more easily. To test this, you can perform the leg stretch test from the start with a little weight.
- Start by running a straight-line leg stretch like the one we mentioned at the beginning, measuring your results. Then execute the same movement, but this time hold a weight on the arm opposite to the leg you lift.
- Weight should be relatively challenging to put some pressure on your abdomen muscles, but not enough to make it too difficult for you to exercise.
- If even holding the weight your leg fails to increase its stretching capacity, you may have some neuromuscular control problem. This problem can be remedied gradually by increasing the strength of the abdomen, which will result in greater control of your spine over the stretching and contraction functions of the muscles.
5. Deadlift with kettlebell
Any exercise that consists of a hip bend is ideal to gradually increase the flexibility of the hamstrings,without the need to attack them in an aggressive way.
- To perform the deadlift, you must start by holding a kettlebell or russian weight between the open legs (it is also useful to hold a dumbbell).
- From this position, press with your hips back, until you feel the stretch in your hamstrings. Your spine should remain straight and your ankles and knees should remain straight at the end of the stretch as well.
- Return to the starting position by pressing from the soles of the feet. When you reach the top, make a slight pressure with the buttocks.
- Run about 3 sets of 10 repetitions each.