Several athletes suffer from hamstring injuries during their training or competition. The sad reality is that the injury is both common and painful. Fortunately, there are sets of simple and effective hamstring stretches that you can include in your regular exercise to avoid hamstring injuries.
Hamstrings form a very important component of your physical and functional build. They are muscles necessary for all the physical activities that involve your legs. To properly maintain these core muscles for athletic performance, every athlete must undertake certain hamstring stretches in their regular training programs to avoid hamstring related injuries. Without these stretches, you’re likely to suffer injuries that may potentially render you unable to continue with your training.
Hamstring injuries range from minor cases and extreme cases to anything in between. While minor cases are likely to go away on their own, extreme cases require the services of a medical professional.
Why You Need Hamstring Stretch Exercises
The saying that goes “Prevention is better than cure” applies in totality on matters health. For an athlete, preventing possible hamstring injuries through proper hamstring stretch exercises is core to athletic well being. Whenever you’re getting involved in physical activities, you may find yourself overstretching at some points. Whether you’re running or undertaking any other activities that involve your legs, overstretching or enhancing speed may result in injury, a prospect that can be significantly reduced by simple hamstring exercises.
For the best results, however, every hamstring stretch exercise you undertake must be carefully monitored to avoid causing harm to your muscles. Even though the stretches are basically the same for all sports, they may vary in intensity.
The Best Hamstring Stretch Exercises for Athletes
There are several hamstring stretches defined for different physical activities. Not all hamstring exercises are used in every sport since different sports need different physical conditioning. However, for a runner, the cross-over switch is indispensable.
So how do you go about it?
All you need to do is stand straight with both legs together. Then lift the right leg and cross it over to the other side of the left leg, keeping both your feet together, straight and facing forward. Slowly roll down your upper body, keeping both legs straight. Continue until you start feeling some stretch at the back of your legs. Don’t get to the point where you start feeling pain since that may end up causing you more harm than good. Hold in the position for 30 seconds then stand straight again and cross the left leg over the right one and repeat the procedure you did with the right leg. Do it twice for each leg and you’re good to go.
The other hamstring stretch that you can explore is lying on your back then raising one leg while the other rests on the ground. Tie a rope or a towel around your sole and pull your leg slowly towards your head until you feel a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds before changing to the other leg. Do so twice for each leg.
These are just two hamstring stretch exercises; there are several others that you can combine with the cross-over switch to achieve more.
Every athlete needs a combination of stretching and strengthening of hamstrings. Properly stretched and strong muscles mean better performance, whether you’re a runner or involved in any other sports.
Besides your hamstrings, you may also want to strengthen and stretch your calves as these are equally important.
Treating Hamstring Injury
Hamstring pull can be a serious source of pain. However, hamstring injuries are often minor thus going away after a short rest. In minor and medium cases, you may only need a few measures in order to heal as listed below;
- Rest – The most important thing to do when you suffer hamstring injury is to let your leg rest. This will allow for faster healing and protect your hamstring from further injury. The pain could be so much that any extra pressure you put on the leg can just cause you further excruciating pain. In some cases you may be compelled to use crutches.
- Tie a bandage around the leg – Because hamstring injury is likely to cause swelling, you’ll need to tie something around the leg, preferably an elastic bandage.
- Apply cold therapy – One of the most common remedies used in hamstring injuries is cold therapy. You can use ice on the injured area to control pain and swelling.
- Other measures – Besides the measures above, there are a number of other options you can explore to curb the pain and swelling as well as hasten the healing process. These include raising your leg and taking anti-inflammatory painkillers, among others.
Nonetheless, the above measures will only work where the muscles haven’t suffered any damage. In extreme cases where the muscles have been badly damaged, you’ll be left with no option but to undergo a surgical procedure to help repair the muscles.
It’s for that and other reasons that you should maintain a proper hamstring stretch regimen. At the same time, you’re advised not to abruptly change the intensity or speed of your exercises as that is one of the main causes of hamstring injuries.
If you know other hamstring exercises to prevent injuries, please share them with the community! 🙂