Stretch Tip #2: Straight Leg Hamstrings

In part two of my series of sharing fitness tips, I bring to you the second simple but vital stretch I do to keep my hamstrings loose. 

This one once again comes from Michael Collins. Michael is a sports therapist, triathlete, Ironman, friend and supporter of mine.  His insights and tips have been invaluable for me, and although they sometimes seem simple and intuitive, by doing them regularly I really feel the difference in my sense of movement and fluidity.  I know that these tips are applicable to anyone – regardless of ability, issue, or level of fitness.

And again, my apologies to Mr Stick Figure Man – I believe I have well and truly butchered him today!

Straight Leg Hamstring Stretch

Stretches: Proximal Hamstrings, Semitendinousus, Semimembranousus, and Biceps Femorus

Image taken from Grey’s Anatomy (Wikipedia)

Contracts: All quadriceps – Vastas Medialis, Lateralis, Intermedialis, and Rectus Femorus

How to:

1. Lay on your back, with the leg you will stretch straight (the other leg relaxed, slightly bent ok)
2. Lift the leg, keeping it extended at as close to 180 degrees straight as possible (be careful not to hyperextend, but the knee must extend completely to have a maximum stretch), and pull as close to at perpendicular angle (90 degrees with your relaxed leg) as possible, and if you can exceed perpendicular, pull until you feel the stretch.
3. Release and return alongside your relaxed leg.

Repeat 10 times, doing 2 sets of 10.  Make sure to fully release each time you stretch.

Editorial Note:  A more professional photo was provided by Michael, added on 23 March 2010

Note: The stretch is easier when using a stretching belt / yoga belt around the foot.  This helps me to pull my leg and control the movement.  When I am at the gym, and can’t find one, I use a towel holding both ends of the towel to help with the stretch.

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