Hamstring Flexibility: Who’s Pulling Your Strings?

Out of all muscles in your body that are injury prone, hamstrings top the list. However, with proper maintenance, they can also help you run longer distances and faster too. The key here is to maintain strong, limber hamstring flexibility to reduce your risk of injury and keep you running strong. The 3 best ways to achieve this? 1) Stretching; 2) Exercising; 3) Proper Nutrition.

Hamstring flexibility

STRETCHING For Hamstring Flexibility:

First and foremost, Hamstring flexibility is primarily attributable to stretching. Try these 3 stretches before and after your next run.

Downward Dog

Begin by lying on your stomach and placing your hands on the floor at your shoulders. With your hands and feet firmly planted on the ground, lift your body so that your hips form a 90 degree angle. Then, straighten your legs and try to lower your heels towards the ground as far as possible.  Hold it for 45 seconds and then relax. Repeating this several times is a great start.

Lying Stretch

lie on the floor next to a wall. Now, raise your left leg and place the heel of your left foot on the wall. Slowly straighten this leg until you feel a slight strain on the muscle. You should hold this position for 30 seconds and then repeat the process with the other leg.

Chest and Knee Stretch

lying flat on your back and lift one knee towards your chest. Gently to pull that knee into your chest with your other leg being rested and extended on the ground. Hold this position for about 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.

EXERCISE:

This is also a key component to maintaining hamstring flexibility primed to run that extra mile. Here’s our favorite hamstring exercises.

Step Ups

This exercise is as simple as repeatedly stepping onto a firmly placed box or a step, one leg at a time and then stepping back to the ground also one leg at a time. While stepping backwards, remember to place the ball of your foot on the ground first and lower your heel in a smooth motion. The higher the step or box the harder the workout. Also, make sure to be gentle in your step and landing.

Kickbacks

This is another incredibly simple exercise. For this, position yourself firmly on your hands and knees. Now, extend one of your legs behind you and kick it upward. Do this in sets of five on both sides for a total of three reps.

NUTRITION:

While stretching and exercising are very important in maintaining your hamstrings, making sure your muscles are getting the proper nutrients plays an equally and often overlooked role too. Just like all the other muscles in your body, the cells in your hamstrings require specific nutrients that allow them to remain strong as well as, repair, replace and heal muscle tissue quickly.

Here are several key nutrients that are vital for injury prevention, recovery and keeping your hamstrings flexible:

Vitamin C – Helps your body make Collagen, the “glue” that strengthens connective tissue which helps speed recovery and prevent injury.

Bromelain – Promotes the healing of muscle tissues

Vitamin D – Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to injury prone muscles and bones.

Vitamin E – Also an antioxidant that helps reduce free radical cellular damage.

 

Zinc, Manganese, Copper – Are all important in the biochemistry of tissue healing. Even a slight deficiency in these trace minerals can lead to a higher chance of injury and longer recovery.

Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM – Among many other benefits, these all provide the building blocks for improved muscle tissue repair and injury prevention.

A well rounded supplement for runners like Complete Runner’s Nutrition provides all of these nutrients and many more. Check out our comprehensive list of included minerals and vitamins for runners at https://completerunnersnutrition.com/ingredient.html