Dynamic Stretches for the Hamstring

fitness woman runner stretching legs on stairs
Dynamic hamstring stretches should be performed during the warm-up phase of a workout. (Image: lzf/iStock/Getty Images)

Stretching exercises benefit your flexibility — the range of motion of your muscles and joints. Stretches prepare your body for a workout, allow for movement without discomfort, and assist in recovery after a workout. There are different types of stretches for different purposes. Dynamic stretches are performed while in motion. They should be included as part of a warm-up activity prior to a workout or athletic performance. Some muscles are more susceptible to chronic tightness than others. Your hamstrings, at the back of your thighs, are prone to tightness, and benefit from dynamic stretches prior to workouts.

Hamstring Stretch

This exercise, which requires a band or towel for resistance, stretches your hamstrings and relieves tightness. Lie on your back, with one leg bent at 45 degrees and your foot flat on the floor. Extend the other leg, placing the band or towel around the bottom of your foot. Hold the ends of the band with your hands. Begin the stretch by lifting the extended leg up toward the ceiling, holding the ends of the band or towel. The stretch intensifies as your leg lifts higher. Continue the stretch by lowering the leg back down to the floor. Complete 10 to 15 repetitions, and repeat the exercise on the other leg.

Hands and Feet

This stretch is often found in drills for sports where hamstring tightness is common. Bend your body forward at the waist, placing your hands and feet on the floor at a comfortable distance apart. Keep your arms and legs extended throughout the exercise. Lift your hips up toward the ceiling and contract your abdomen to avoid arching your back. Begin the exercise by walking forward with your hands, about four "steps." Hold your position and continue the exercise by walking your feet forward towards your hands. Continue walking alternating your arms and legs. Work up to a 60-second duration.

Standing Leg Swings

This exercise stretches your hamstrings and enhances coordination. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart, one hand on your hip, the other holding on to an object such as a bar or the back of a chair. Begin the stretch by extending and lifting one leg up to about hip height in a controlled motion. Continue the exercise by lowering the leg and bringing it behind your body. Flex your foot while lifting your leg up to enhance the stretch. Repeat 10 to 15 repetitions, and then switch to the other leg.

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