Are you cheating with your hamstring stretches?
Consider yourself fit but can’t touch your toes anymore?
Hamstring tightness results from both repetitive exercise and long periods of sitting. Longer, relaxed hamstrings can relieve knee and back pain, and can improve your performance when running, kicking or dancing. When it comes to lengthening and relaxing these muscles, I find people are very good at cheating (whether they mean to or not!). We have two hamstring muscles on the inside of the leg and only one on the outside, so people tend to turn their leg out to make it easier.
While you are standing, bend forward and try to touch your toes. Take a mental note of how far you get. Recheck this after doing the stretch below… If you take a few minutes to do this stretch 3 times a week, you will see a huge improvement in your hamstring flexibility over time.
Lying Hamstring Stretch
Lie on you back with one leg bent and one straight.
Loop a belt or towel around the foot of the straight leg. Use your arms to pull the leg up until a stretch is felt behind the knee – keeping the leg straight. This should be firm, but not painful.
Once the stretch has started to relax in this position, slowly rotate the leg in- you will feel an increased stretch on the inside of the knee, then rotate the leg out to decrease the stretch- all the time keeping the leg up using your belt/towel.
Repeat for 10 – 15 seconds, relax a little, then increase the stretch by moving the straight leg a little further towards your head.
Be sure to relax your neck and shoulders, and keep breathing as you do this stretch.