You don't have to experience soreness, tightness or discomfort in your hamstrings after exercise. While a little soreness after exercise is normal, repeated or prolonged soreness in your hamstrings after exercise can be an indication that the intensity of your workout is too high.
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With a few preventative measures and some rehabilitation, you can heal your sore hamstrings and prevent future soreness.
What Causes Hamstring Soreness?
Mild soreness in your hamstrings after a workout is normal. As you exercise, your muscle fibers tear and heal naturally.
Prolonged periods of soreness that occur 1 to 2 days after exercising isn't normal. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is common if you've recently changed your routine or increased the intensity of your workout, and it's an indication that you need to dial back your routine.
Soreness or stiffness in the three major muscle groups that make up the hamstrings is also especially common in individuals who sit for long periods. These muscle groups remain compressed if you remain in your chair for most of the day. Compressed hamstrings naturally lose their flexibility over time, which can cause soreness after a workout.
The best way to avoid sore hamstrings is to avoid overtraining. If you're attempting a new activity, make sure you're building up the intensity of your new routine slowly, giving your muscles time to heal and rebuild between each session.
Working a rest day in at least once a week can give your sore hamstrings a chance to recover so that you don't risk an injury. If you do experience symptoms associated with DOMS, discontinue exercise and let your body heal, and seek a sports therapist or doctor's advice if the soreness persists.
Read more: Signs and Symptoms of Overtraining
Incorporate a Stretching Routine
Preventive stretching can help prevent hamstring soreness by increasing your flexibility. A daily stretching regimen improves your hamstrings range of motion over a few weeks or months.
To perform a supine hamstrings stretch, lie on your back with your left knee bent and left foot flat on the floor, and stretch your right leg straight up. You can rest your right leg along the corner of a wall or door jamb for stability. Slowly straighten your right knee so that your leg flattens against the wall, stretching your hamstring.
Feel like you're pulling your heel upward toward the ceiling while exhaling slowly. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and do a few repetitions before switching legs.
Read more: The Best Hamstring Stretching Exercises
Other Hamstring-Healing Tips
Prevent muscle soreness using a few other basic lifestyle changes. As a starting point, make sure you're hydrating well throughout your workout routine, and follow each session with a healthy amount of protein so that your muscle fibers can rebuild and heal between workouts.
Also consider incorporating watermelon and cherry juice into your diet. These superfoods have amino acids and phytochemicals that have been shown to reduce muscle soreness by increasing blood flow.
Encourage healing through massage therapy, which increases blood flow to your sore hamstring muscles, helping them heal faster and regain flexibility.
Read more: Nutritional Cause of Stiff Leg Muscles