How to Avoid Pulling Your Hamstring!
Most men don’t put flexibility very high on their fitness list of priorities but ask any athlete who has suffered through the dreaded hamstring pull, and they will tell you that it is now at the top of theirs. It is also common for men who are a bit older to start noticing that recurring ache that they get when they wake up, that keeps aspirin and ibuprofen companies in business.
So what can those people do who are frequently using their hamstrings, whether it is for training, athletics, jogging, or just getting on in years, how can you avoid the pain in the butt?
First and foremost, you have to stretch!
Stretching may seem a bit annoying to some, but it really can make a difference. In a simple 13-week study of a hamstring stretching program, it found the test group’s participants were more flexible and halved their injury rate than compared to those in the control group.
Performing dynamic stretches like leg swings, which use motion to loosen up the muscles, are increasingly popular exercises that can double as a light warm-up, too. Tou can also perform the standing hamstring stretch, when the heel of the target leg’s foot is up on a chair, this will also stretch the hamstring and, if you bend the front knee just a touch, also your glutes.
For on the ground stretches, put one leg up angling at a little more than a 90-degrees and bend your torso forward, try to keep it next to, or if possible, below the line of your thigh, which you should keep parallel to the ground. Put that other leg comfortably behind you, and try to hold the position for at least 30 seconds before releasing.
Work your Legs!
Quadriceps and hamstrings are muscle groups that complement each other, keeping a balance between the two are of the utmost importance. So, though you may be doing squats, you may be doing your leg health more harm than good, by contributing to an imbalance between the two muscles. This “quadriceps dominance” often becomes a significant risk factor that can lead to torn ACLs and other catastrophic knee injuries. Two of the best exercises for strengthening hamstrings are deadlifts, both of the conventional and Romanian variety. As a reminder, stretch first and DO NOT bend your back.
Learn How To Stretch
For those who are most concerned about their leg health, taking a yoga or Pilates class would be an ideal direction to take, even if only for one session.
Very generally speaking, yoga focuses a little more on flexibility, while Pilates tends to trend towards strength-building, but there’s also considerable overlap. A good way to see which one you like best is to try them both out and see what you think. Your legs, and the rest of your body will benefit in the long run, and your whole body will thank you.