FitOldDog’s Favorite Hamstring Stretch (Lengthening) Exercise

Hamstring exercise machine

I like this machine at the gym, using high reps and low load, integrated with a solid hamstring stretch routine. Click image for source.

Muscle happiness comes from regular exercise, adequate recovery, and lengthening (stretching is really not a good term, it leads to the wrong attitude). Furthermore, each muscle has it’s own personality, so you have to find a way to make each one happy – just like people!  It isn’t really about stretching, it’s about developing a healthy relationship.

FitOldDog's hamstring stretch.

FitOldDog’s effortless hamstring stretch (left leg). Photo by Deb.

Hamstring strains are pretty common in runners, many of whom (myself included), will happily run for an hour or two, but stretch for only a few minutes – not enough! Having limber hamstrings is one sure way to minimize your chances of running injury to these pesky but important muscles. I’ve developed my own preferred approach to hamstring lengthening, which also allows me to read a good book a the same time. It can be done anywhere, such as on a couch (see image) or up against a wall – yep, I do that almost anywhere, too, and get some funny looks.

You place your lower back against a firm surface, as close as your hamstrings can comfortably accommodate, and let the force of gravity straighten your leg. If necessary, you can add a gentle push with your hand. You’ll feel a pleasant pull on the hamstrings. Move your body (or just your head!) around to focus the effect on different regions of your hamstring muscle group.

You can do the same thing standing, for which I use the back of my truck when I’m on the road, or a tree stump out on the trails. Gentle, effortless, and for several minutes (up to 10) is the key to this hamstring stretch. Pushing out your chest will increase the force of the stretch, so only use that for gentle fine tuning.

That’s it! Works wonders for me, before and after a run, because I love to read a good book.


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.