The hamstring muscles are a large group of muscles in the back of the thigh that help to bend your knee and extend your hip. Tightness in the hamstrings is sometimes implicated as a contributor to low back pain, hip pain, or knee pain. Injury such as a strain to these muscles usually requires gentle stretching to help restore normal mobility and range of motion.
Hamstring stretches are most often performed while sitting or lying on the floor. But you may be a very busy person with a full time job. Your office may not be a good place to lie down to stretch your hamstrings. Or you may always be on the go, and finding the right place to lie down to stretch your hamstrings may not always be feasable.
There is a simple way to get a good stretch to your hamstring muscles without lying on the floor. It is the standing hamstring stretch. Here's how you do it:
- While standing, place your heel on a small stool or a stack of books. The files on your desk should make a good-sized pile. If you are outside, you can use the curb, but be sure to watch for cars.
- Reach both arms up toward the place where the wall and ceiling meet. If you are outside (and there is no wall or ceiling) simply reach up into the air so your arms are about even with your ears. Reaching your arms up, as opposed to reaching down toward your foot, will keep your back straight.
- Now slowly and gently lean forward, but be sure to keep your back straight and your posture upright. You should feel a stretch behind your thigh. Do not reach down to your foot, but up in the air.
- Hold this position for about 10-15 seconds. Then slowly return to the starting position.
- Repeat 3-5 times.
This exercise may be repeated a few times a day to help improve the flexibility of your hamstring muscles in the legs.
You can perform the standing hamstring stretch just about anywhere: in line at the market, at the office, or along the sidewalk while walking or jogging. Be sure to check with your physical therapist or doctor to make sure it is safe for you to do this exercise.