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There are many different ways you can stretch the Hamstring muscles. I am going to show you a couple of relatively gentle one with this article just to get you started.
The Hamstring muscles are attached to the bottom of the pelvis, in a similar area to the bony points you sit on. From here they pass down the leg to attach again just below the knee. Just as is the case with a tight Piriformis Muscle, tight Hamstrings can also be responsible for Low Back Pain & Sciatica as well...
Low Back Pain
If the Hamstring muscles are tight, they will pull on the bottom of the pelvis and encourage it to rotate backwards. Also, if there is tightness around the lower back itself, this backwards rotation movement will be resisted by the back and therefore the increased stress will be taken up in and around the bottom of the Lower Back or the Sacro-Iliac Joint. This increased stress is likely to lead to low back pain from either of these two areas.
Alternatively, if there is no particular tightness about the lower back and possibly even some weakness present, the increased pull resulting from the tight Hamstrings can encourage the lower back to bend too much, once again, potentially leading to Low Back Pain.
Either of these examples can casue you to suffer pain as a consequence of tight Hamstring muscles.
The sciatic nerve is formed from 5 nerve roots which leave the lower back from the lumbar spine and sacrum. As it does this, this nerve passes through the buttock region and down the back of the leg to the back of the knee. As it passes down the back of the leg, the sciatic nerve passes through the Hamstring muscles. Consequently, if the Hamstrings are tight, they can place increased stress upon the sciatic nerve, leading to pain.
I have provided you with below, two relatively gently Hamstring stretches to help get you on your way stretching the Hamstrings and therefore alleviating any pain you may be suffering with as a consequence of tight Hamstring muscles.
Hamstring Stretch One
With this stretch, you start by lying yourself on your back with both knees bent. Then take hold of the leg to be stretched behind the knee so that your knee is pointing towards the ceiling and your lower leg just resting down. Once in this position, gently straighten your knee so that the lower leg begins to point towards the ceiling as shown below.
When you begin to feel a stretch in the back of your leg, you have straightened your leg far enough, hold your leg there according to the schedule given below.
Hold: 20 - 30 seconds
Reps: 2 - 3
Times per Day: 2 - 3
NB. Do not necessarily expect your knee to straighten as much as in the diagram above. Especially if you have very tight Hamstrings, you will find there is a stretching or pulling sensation in the back of your leg before you get to this point. If so, this is nothing to worry about, just a sure sign that your Hamstrings are very tight and therefore definitely need stretching out.
Hamstring Stretch Two
This stretch is a little more aggressive than the one given above, so please take care. Also, there can be a tendency if you are not careful, to bend at your back as opposed to your hips. This will place an increased flexion force across your lower back and may therefore aggravating you pain further.
Sitting on the edge of a chair as shown, gently straighten the leg to be stretched out in front of you, leaving a slight bend at the knee. Keeping your back straight, gently lean forward at your hips until you feel a stretching at the back of your leg. At this point hold the stretch there.
Hold: 20 - 30 seconds
Reps: 2 - 3
Times per Day: 2 - 3
If you are bending a reasonable amount forward and still feel no stretch at the back of your leg, remain in the same position but then gently begin to straighten your knee out further. This will place an increased stretch through the Hamstring muscles which you should feel at the back of your leg. If you still feel no stretch at this point, you will be ready to progress on to a more aggressive stretch.
NB. I would just like to reinforce the importance of keeping you back straight when performing this second Hamstring stretch. If you begin to bend forward at your back as opposed to your hips, you will potentially aggravate your pain.
None of the above stretches should aggravate your pain. The stretch itself can sometimes feel uncomfortable, and within reason I am not too concerned with this. However, if at any stage you feel an increase in your pain, it is important to ease off.
There are other stretches which will be more aggressive and a better stretch for the Hamstring muscles, but as I alluded to above, these will have the potential to aggravate you Low Back Pain or Sciatica should you perform them at the incorrect time. The stretches given above should be suffice to get you started with and help alleviate any pain you are suffering with at the moment.
I hope you enjoy the above stretches and they help alleviate your pain.
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