What are Different Types of Hamstring Exercises?

Autumn Rivers

The leg is a large, important part of the body, so keeping it in good shape can be helpful to most people. The hamstring muscle can be found on the back of the leg, and excess tightness can impede movement. In fact, tight hamstrings often not only hinder movement of the legs, but of the entire body, as they can affect how the lower back and pelvis move. Thus, hamstring exercises can assist anyone, from those serious about working out to those merely looking to make any movement easier. They can be performed either on the floor or standing, and range from static to active types.

Hamstring stretches can help increase muscle flexibility.
Hamstring stretches can help increase muscle flexibility.

Some static hamstring exercises require the subject to sit on the floor while stretching. One common stretch involves sitting on the floor, with legs out straight in front, while reaching for the toes with the arms. The knees should not bend during this time. Not everyone will be able to touch their toes, but it is important to reach as far as possible, while keeping the legs straight. Performing this movement often will usually result in being able to touch the toes eventually, partly due to more relaxed hamstrings.

Tight hamstrings not only hinder movement of the legs, but often the entire body.
Tight hamstrings not only hinder movement of the legs, but often the entire body.

Another floor stretch involves leaving only one leg stretched out front, with the other leg bent inward with toes touching the thigh of the opposite leg. The same movement as the previous exercise is used, with the subject bending at the waist, and attempting to touch the toes of the outstretched leg. The position should be held for about ten seconds.

Other hamstring exercises can be performed while standing up. The previous exercises described can be done not only on the floor, but also standing up. They might require more balance when not performed while on the floor, but they provide the same benefits either way. One stretch that can be done while standing demands less balance, since the hands are placed against the wall with feet shoulder-width apart. The subject should take one step back so that one foot is in front of the other, with feet pressed into the floor and hands pushing against the wall for about ten seconds.

The hamstring exercises described here are static stretches, but there are active moves that can also help loosen the area. In fact, to turn the typical toe touch into an active exercise, the subject should stand with heels on a small board so that they are lifted slightly off the floor. The next step is to bend at the waist, but instead of keeping the legs straight, it is necessary to bend the knees until the palms are flat on the floor. Next, the hips should be moved gently up and down until a stretch in the hamstrings is felt. A mixture of static and active hamstring exercises is helpful to loosen up the muscles as much as possible.

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