Hamstring Stretches for Runners: Spring into the Season Safely with These Key Stretches For Runners
It’s finally here! That time of the year where a good number of us emerge gloriously from our happy homes and out into the parks to experience the change of season. Exercise and movement are at the forefront of enjoying the warmer days of spring with the park trails soon be flooded with happy runners— and you’re likely to be one of these runners!
To keep you healthy while you happily enjoy the fresh air and exercise it’s very important to remember your stretches.
“For runners looking to get the most out of their workout and prevent injury, it’s vital to stretch before, during and after the run,” says Dr. Todd Sinett, creator of the Backbridge. “Stretching also helps the body be better prepared should you come across any unforeseen obstacles such as rocks, cracks in pavement or having to quickly pivot away from a biker or dog.”
Dr. Sinett notes that running targets several muscle groups and can vary in intensity depending on your own unique body shape. The lower body muscles impacted are the hamstrings, quads and glutes. Other muscles affected can also include the calves, back, feet and ankles.
The best way to understand where you are most impacted is to pay close attention to your body during the run and how you feel the next day. This will help you to understand what areas could use extra stretching to ensure you’re being safe and preventing injury.
The Runner’s Muscle
What is clear for all is the muscle group that will be engaged for all runners is the hamstring as it’s involved in knee flexion, hip extension and hyperex- tension, and transfers power between the hip and knee joints. The hamstring is a powerhouse trio of muscles and when one of them is strained, then all three are affected. Most hamstring injuries often happen because of running therefore stretching is essential to injury prevention.
Below are key hamstring stretches for runners looking to gain the best stamina from the workout. These are ideal to do, before and after your run.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Place one heel on the Backbridge with your other foot flat on the floor. Bend at the waist and attempt to put your whole foot on the Backbridge. Note: the higher the level of the Back- bridge, the easier the stretch. Repeat with your other leg. You can also do this stretch with your foot flexed.
Hamstring Stretch (With Strap)
Sit on the highest point of the Backbridge and lie back on the mat. Bring one leg toward your chest and place the stretch strap around your foot just below the ball of your big toe, making sure the strap is flat. Extend the leg straight up above your hip, keeping the other leg extended over the Backbridge and along the mat. You can modify by bending your other leg and putting your foot on the mat. Gently pull the strap down and back towards your chest to increase the stretch in your hamstring. Keep your leg and knee as straight as possible without locking your knee (hyperextension) while doing this stretch. The higher the level of the Backbridge you use, the greater the stretch will be. Repeat with the other leg.
Calf/Hamstring Stretch (With Strap)
Sit on the Backbridge level 2 or 3 and place one leg out straight. Bend your other knee and cross your shin in front of the Backbridge with the sole of your foot facing the inner thigh of your outstretched leg. Place the strap around your extended foot and gently pull the strap towards you, making sure you sit up straight with a long spine. You should feel the stretch in the hamstring of your extended leg, as well as in your calf, ankle and Achilles tendon. Repeat with the other leg.
Hamstring and Lower Back Stretch
From the last stretch, bend at the hips and lean forward with a straight back, reaching for the ankle of your outstretched leg. Altering the height of the Backbridge will not necessarily alter the intensity of the stretch, but it will impact different parts of your hamstring, so try different levels to find the stretch you need/prefer. Repeat on the opposite side.
Hamstring and Lower Back Stretch (variation)
From the last stretch, bring your bent leg underneath you with the top of your foot on the mat. the Backbridge will allow you to comfortably sit and stretch in this position without hurting your bent knee. With a straight back, bend at the hip and lean forward reaching for the ankle of your outstretched leg. If you have tight hamstrings, this can also be done with the stretch strap. Repeat on the opposite side.
Want more rewarding stretches for the rest of your body?
Buy Dr. Sinett’s book The Ultimate Backbridge Stretch Book.