Dynamic stretches loosen your hamstrings, priming them for exercise and reducing the risk of exercise-related injury. Doing a few stretches before your workout can also improve your athletic capability. A 2012 study, conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, reports that doing dynamic stretches before exercise improves hamstring flexibility during vertical jumps. Consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Keep Them Straight
Straight-leg swings warm up the hamstrings. Stand with your right side next to a wall. Place your right hand on the wall for balance. Lift your left foot off the floor and straighten your leg. Swing your left leg upward, stopping when you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. You shouldn't feel pain, so don't swing as high if you do. Your swing will increase as your flexibility improves. Lower your foot, then repeat. Complete 15 swings, then swing your left leg behind you 15 times. Turn around, place your left hand on the wall and complete front and back swings with your right leg.
Do the Frankenstein
The frankenstein walk prepares your hamstrings for exercise. Stand up straight and lift your arms in front of your shoulders. Step your left foot forward and swing your right leg upward while reaching toward it with your left hand. Do this without bending your back. Lower your foot to the floor, then swing your left leg up while reaching with your right hand. Continue this pattern as you walk forward. Complete 10 to 20 swings with each leg.
Touch Your Toes
Toe touches warm up the hamstrings. Stand up straight, bend your knees slightly and position your feet slightly wider than your shoulders. Lift your arms to your sides, parallel to the floor. Turn your palms down. Bend your upper body forward, hinging from your hips and keeping your back straight. Reach your right hand to the toes of your left foot as you lower. Stand up and lift your arm to parallel. Lower and reach your left hand toward the toes of your right foot. Continue alternating, completing 10 to 20 touches with each arm.
Lunge Into Your Workout
Stationary lunges warm up the hamstrings, quads and glutes. Stand up straight and place your feet hip-distance apart. Extend your right leg behind you and lift onto your toes. Align your left knee and left ankle. Having your knees jut past your ankles can strain them, so protect your knees by maintaining alignment during the lunges. Point both feet forward, squaring your hips and shoulders. Lower your hips toward the floor, bending your left leg 90 degrees. Stop before your right knee touches the floor, push through your left heel and stand up. Complete 12 to 15 lunges with your left leg; switch legs and do a set with your right leg.
- US National Library of Medicine: A Dynamic Warm-up Model Increases Quadriceps Strength and Hamstring Flexibility
- Cleveland Clinic: Dynamic Stretches
- American Council on Exercise: 7 Not-So-Scary Halloween-Inspired Exercises
- ACE Personal Trainer Manual; American Council on Exercise