Exercises When Suffering From a Hamstring Strain

Part of the rehabilitation phase of a hamstring strain can include targeted stretching and strengthening exercises. Hamstring strain can differ in severity, and may range from tightness in the back of your legs to a complete tear of the muscle. The more severe the strain, the more gradual your approach should be when it comes to exercise progression. Warm up with five minutes of light cardio before doing hamstring exercises. First, though, consult a doctor.

A man is stretching his legs. (Image: teksomolika/iStock/Getty Images)

Effective Chair Stretches

A simple hamstring stretch can be done while sitting in a chair with your knees bent 90 degrees and your feet on the floor. Just raise the foot of the injured leg off the floor and straighten your knee as much as you comfortably can. Hold this stretch for at least 20 seconds and repeat it five times. Repeat stretches on both legs to reach an even level of flexibility. Standing upright and placing your heel on the chair while hinging forward at your hips is also a good basic stretch.

Using the Wall

A wall can support you during your stretching exercises. Simply lie on the floor with one leg extended through a door opening and the other leg bent with your foot on wall next to the door frame. Slowly slide your foot up the wall until you feel a comfortable stretch in your hamstring. Hold this for 20 seconds and repeat it five times on both legs. Standing upright about 2 feet from the wall and leaning into the wall can stretch your calves. This is beneficial because your calves attach right where your hamstrings ends.

Lying Strengthening Exercises

Start strengthening a strained hamstring with just the resistance of your body weight. While lying face down on the floor with your legs extended, bend one knee and bring your heel toward your buttocks for five seconds. Do two sets of 15 repetitions with each leg. Then keep your legs straight and raise one leg off the floor as high as you comfortably can. Pause five seconds and really focus on the contraction in your hamstring. Repeat this 15 times before switching legs and complete two sets. As your hamstrings get stronger, wear ankle weights for an added challenge.

Curls and Step-Ups

Once you've gained some strength in your legs, incorporate hamstring curls or step-ups into your routine. To do hamstring curls, tie one end of an exercise band to an immovable object and the other end to your ankle. Then sit in a chair with your knee extended. Bend your knee to activate your hamstring and to stretch the exercise band. During step-ups you basically step up and down a platform that's high enough so the thigh of your leading leg is parallel to the floor when your foot is on the elevated surface. Try to complete two sets of 15 repetitions.

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