This week it’s all about showing your hamstrings some love and attention. Strong hamstrings can improve how fast you run, as well as prevent injuries from occurring in the hamstrings. As with any muscle, the stronger the muscle is, the better you preform, which doesn’t only mean strengthening, but also stretching the hamstrings to increase flexibility.
Touch your Toes
Simple but effective touching your toes, stretches your hamstrings and increases flexibility. Start by rolling your head and spine down to the floor, so the stretch is gradual and not a sudden pull on your hamstrings. If you’ve never been able to touch your toes, don’t fret, reach as far to the floor as your body will allow without pain. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and then slowly roll back up.
Single Leg Deadlifts
This exercise helps strengthen your pelvic muscles, which makes you less susceptible to injuring your hamstrings. Hold a dumbbell in your right arm any weight is fine. Start in a standing position. Slowly lower your right arm with the dumbbell and as you lower your right arm raise your right leg using your hips. Your back should be straight and your left leg slightly bent. Do your best to make your back and right leg parallel to the ground. Then return to a standing position and repeat.
Lie down on the ground with your hands palm down at your sides. Lift your lower legs so that your feet are flat on the ground and close, but not touching, your hands. Your feet should not be far apart, but not so close that they are touching. Raise your hips up into the air, while keeping your shoulder blades on the ground. Squeeze your glutes and hold the position for 30 seconds and then slowly lower yourself back down. This exercise helps your hamstrings and glutes become stronger, which helps prevent injuries from occurring.
Toes to the Sky
This stretch is probably the most relaxing stretch for your hamstrings, but still just as effective. Find an empty wall space that can fit both of your legs comfortably. Lie down and place your feet up on the wall. Scoot yourself until there is no space between the wall and you. Your legs and back should be straight. Breathe, relax, and let the stretch work itself.
Not only does this exercise work your hamstrings, but it also helps strengthen your core. To do this exercise, get on your hands and knees, you might want a yoga mat. Make sure that your hips are directly above your knees. Kick your left leg up and towards the sky, but make sure your left leg is bent 90 degrees. It should not be straight out or straight up. Then bring your left leg back down towards the floor, but don’t completely rest on it. Repeat this exercise until you feel comfortable and then switch legs.
For this exercise you’ll need a resistance band or a cable machine. Make a loop and tie the resistance band to a sturdy pole. You also need a loop for your leg to go into. Place your right leg into the loop. Slowly pull back with your right leg as if you were taking a step. Then gently come back to the starting position.
Rolling out the Hamstrings
For this you will need your handy foam roller. Sit on the ground and position your foam roller underneath your left leg, just above the knee. With your hands supporting your weight, roll the foam roller up your hamstring until you get to your glutes, and then slowly roll back down the hamstring. Repeat this roll for a few times and then switch legs. Foam rolling your hamstrings will help your hamstrings repair themselves and will make you less sore.
Hopefully these strengthening and stretching exercises aid you in preventing hamstring strains and help you improve your speed on the course. If you do think you have a strain contact your doctor and make sure not to further injure yourself.