Your hamstrings are only as good as your flexibility allows them to be. How flexible are yours? As one of the biggest muscle groups in your body, and located along the back of your legs, hamstrings work with your spine to allow you to run, jump, and climb at your best. Your personal trainer has told you, your workout buddy has told you, and even your high school basketball coach told you: If you don’t stretch your hamstrings, your body can’t perform at its best. Better listen up and stretch them out for better athletic performance for lifelong gain (with little pain!)

Nothing can ruin crossing the finish line of your 10K quite like the burning pain of shin splints, or waking up the next morning after a long day at work quite like chronic back pain. From the spine to your poor posture, hamstrings are often the culprit. The American Journal of Sports Medicine discovered that through regular stretching and through gaining flexibility, you can reduce injuries from head to toe. And, you don’t have to be a Navy Reserve or a marathon runner to suffer from injury; injuries are just as common for those lifting heavy boxes in the attic or even by sitting at your desk at work during an eight hour stretch.  Are you all of a sudden feeing inclined to improve your hamstring flexibility? Good choice! Here’s how to do it right.

Keep It Simple and Easy

Start this exercise by incorporating it into your regular workout. So, if you hit the gym three times a week (which is ideal) begin stretching out your hamstrings three times a week. If you go for an evening walk twice a week, stretch your hamstrings out right before your walk. Get it? Like the butterfly stretch where you bring both legs in with feet touching one another, this stretch requires you to do a ‘half butterfly’, where you’ll begin to extend your left leg out with foot flexed, while your right leg is brought in and resting along your left leg’s inner thigh.

Slowly move your hands down your leg, and begin to feel the stretch in your hamstrings (all while keeping a flat back and straight spine.) Hold this stretch for 15 seconds, and repeat on the other side.

Touch Your Toes!

This hamstring exercise is a great way to not only loosen up your muscles, but in order to start your day feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. Did you know that a single stretch can improve your energy and overall mood?  Stand with your feet slightly apart (just enough to balance yourself easily.) Bend forward in a slow manner, and reach down to touch your toes while keeping your shoulders straight and in good posture. Easy to do, you should feel a nice stretch in your calves, glutes and most importantly, your hamstrings.

Are You Searching For Your Own Fountain of Youth?

As we age, chronic lower back pain becomes a challenge. So, why not nip it at its source? Why not have strong muscle groups that will support your limbs and minimize possible injury? Why not feel like you have the body of a 25 year old, when you’re 45?  Most of us ignore our hamstrings, but by recognizing the power it has to heighten our total body performance and overall health, we can create a healthier body today (which will help us to revitalize the body we had in our youth!) Eating right, exercising and gaining flexibility in our hamstrings may just be the answer to staying as young as possible, for as long as possible.