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Move of the Month – Hamstring Stretches

January 23, 2014

Provided by Copley Certified Athletic Trainer Vin Faraci, MS, ATC

One of the most common problems I see in my practice is poor hamstring flexibility, the muscle group in the back of the thigh. Inflexibility of the hamstrings can lead to a variety of problems including low back pain, anterior knee pain, IT band pain and even lower leg issues like “shin splints”. Many of these issues are common in runners, athletes that participate in team sports like soccer and basketball, as well as cyclists due to the highly repetitive nature of these activities.

In general, stretching is more effective when performed after a light warm up. Try a brisk walk, light jog, or a few minutes on a stationary bike. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and do 2-3 times for both sides of the body. You are trying to lengthen the muscle. You should feel a sensation of stretching, pressure, or light pulling. Stretching should not be painful. If you experience pain when stretching you are doing too much and you should back off on the intensity of the stretch. Faraci offers the following examples for both seated and standing stretches:

Seated

  • Sit on the floor or on a yoga mat with your legs out in front of you.
  • Tuck the sole of your right foot next to, but not under, your left knee.
  • Place your hands on your lower leg.
  • Maintain good posture in your lower and upper back.
  • Press forward at the waist until you feel stretching behind the left knee and thigh.
  • Do 2-3 times, then repeat on the other side, tucking left foot to right knee.

Standing

Faraci is an athletic trainer at Copley Hospital. He provides both land based and aquatic orthopedic rehabilitation. Vin also works closely with area schools to ensure our student athletes are receiving the proper prevention and injury care to keep them on the slopes, fields and courts.