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Hamstring stretching tips from a sports physiotherapist

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Our Sports Physiotherapist Daire Curran has experience working in elite sport, in diverse range of backgrounds from American football, rugby, sprinters, winter sport games. So I’ve worked with Olympians in both the summer and winter sport games.

The hamstrings is one of the most important muscle groups for us to take care of when working with anyone from an elite sportsmen down to local people, runners, soccer players, a diverse range of sports. The hamstrings is one of the most important muscle groups to maintain, it’s pliability and elasticity, such that you don’t get injured.

In this blog we will take you through a short series of different stretching techniques. A usual place for these techniques is about midway through the warm up, so after you’re a little bit warm but before you moved on to more powerful activities.

Anatomy

The hamstrings start in the sit bone just underneath the glute, and then extend down into the lower leg. So a really important concept in stretching the hamstrings is actually the tilt of the pelvis. If you want to put alot of tension on the hamstrings, tilt the pelvis forward, which will increase this lumbar lordosis (curve in the back). Adversely, if you want to give the hamstrings increased length, you tilt the pelvis backwards.

These are both two really important concepts because you can gain length and range in the hamstring in two different ways. You can gain it by actually stretching the hamstring itself and making the nervous system realise that that length is appropriate and can be tolerated, or stretching the front of the hip which will naturally effect the tilt of the pelvis, and as such the length of the hamstring itself. We are going to go through both types today.

Hamstring stretching

Set up on a low surface, for example a chair. Loop the resistance band around the balls of your toes and have a neutral foot, hip, knee, ankle (all in line). By tilting the pelvis forwards and arching the back, you can put tension on the hamstrings and feel a stretch. If you then pull a little bit of tension on the band and move your ankle up and down, you should feel as your foot comes up and increased tension to that hamstring.

It is important to understand the hamstring is not an isolated muscle, it’s a muscle group. So in order to effect different parts of that, what we can do is change the rotation of the hip while turning the position of the foot. To stretch the outside hamstring, turn the foot inwards, carry out that forward pelvic tilt to increase the stretch on the hamstrings. Then you can start applying tension on the band, moving the ankle up and down for an increased stretch.

If you want to increase the stretch on the inside of the hamstring, rotate the foot out and tilt the pelvis forward. Then you can start applying tension on the band, moving the ankle up and down for an increased stretch.

Stretching the hip

To help the hamstrings, we want to also address is the front of the hip. By stretching the front of the hip, the hamstrings will also increase in length.

Begin by kneeling on a cusion in a lunge position with the ball of your back foot against the wall. Tilt your pelvis backwards and you should feel a stretch to the front of the hip. To increase the stretch lift the arm up (same side as hip) with palm up to the ceiling. here. To progress this exercise carry out the above and continue to tilt your pelvis forwards and backwards. Make sure to squeeze your glute at the top to really stretch the front of the hip.

Daire Curran – Physiotherapist
Click here to see Daire’s profile

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