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Tight hamstrings are a bigger problem than you may realize. Not only do they restrict normal range of motion in the legs, and make your legs weaker, they also cause low back pain and structural issues by tilting the pelvis. It is important for overall wellness and just to feel good — in addition to being a precursor to strength training — that you get your hamstrings into normal resting length. This means being able to touch your toes with no problem. If you can’t do that, watch today’s video to learn a great 4-part stretching progression that will do it for you.
In today’s video, Dennis Angelina from Fast Twitch Training shows you a fantastic progression for hamstring stretching. It will help lengthen your hamstrings.
When your hamstrings are in their normal resting length, you should be able to bend forward if seated, or bend over if standing, and touch your toes. If you can’t, you should not begin strength training of the hamstrings. So these exercises today will help loosen those leg muscles to make you feel better overall, while also prepping you to be able to do proper strength training.
1) Pillow. In this video, Dennis uses what is called a ‘balance pillow.’ However, you can use any pillow that is the approximate depth and width. A sofa pillow works pretty good, or a bed pillow folded in half (doubled) will do nicely, too.
2) Platform. You will also need a platform, about an inch or 1.5-inches thick. Here Dennis uses a free weight. But you can use a hardcover book or unit of shelving from a bookshelf.
You want to put the platform on the floor in front of you and place the pillow between your knees. It is very important that you squeeze the pillow between your knees and keep the pressure constant throughout the exercise. By squeezing your knees, muscles which are antagonistic to the hamstrings fatigue, thus “allowing” the hamstrings to lengthen.
Hamstring Exercise 1
Now, keeping your knees in place, simply push your butt back and bend forward to touch your toes. Go down as far as you can and hold for 3 seconds, then come back up slowly. Do this five times.
Hamstring Exercise 2
Now that you have warmed up a bit and begun loosening the hamstrings, you will use the platform. Step your feet onto the platform, so that the balls of your feet are on the ledge and your toes are above or on it. See video for visual.
Again, squeeze the pillow between your knees and push your butt back and bend forward to touch your toes. It will feel different than Exercise 1. Do this five times, holding 3 seconds each time.
Hamstring Exercise 3
Next, you will turn around and stand with your heels up on the platform ledge. Again, squeeze the pillow between your knees and push your butt back and bend forward to touch your toes. It will feel different than Exercise 1. Do this five times, holding 3 seconds each time.
Hamstring Exercise 4
For the last part of this hamstring progression you will return to the original method shown in Exercise 1. Standing with pillow gripped between your knees, no platform, bend forward to touch your toes. Again, five sets of 3 seconds each will do the trick.
At this point you should feel and see noticeable difference in your hamstring length, or flexibility. You should feel less tightness, more ease of movement, and less pain if you felt it before.
Many people find the most benefit from doing this series of hamstring stretches in the morning, right after getting up out of bed, and at night just before bed. Why? Because we often sleep crooked and wake up in pain or at least tight, and this will help loosen you for the day; and we often feel tense at bedtime and it will help relax you at night.
After about a week of doing these 4 simple hamstring routine twice daily, you will see results. Good luck!