Caution: Do not attempt to perform this stretch without consulting with your chiropractor or physician – if you have a serious injury this activity may cause further injury.
Where is it? : Your hamstrings are actually a group of muscles that occupy the back part of the thigh, which are responsible for lifting the lower half of the leg up towards the body (flexion), as well as allowing for some rotation of the lower leg and moving the leg back (extension) . The muscles are individually know as the semitendonosis, the semimembranosis, and the biceps femoris. These three muscles attach at the top to the pelvic bone and at the bottom to the tibia (semitendonosis, semimembranosis) and the fibula (biceps femoris), which are the two structural bones in the lower leg.
Why should I do it? : Since the hamstrings attach to the pelvis any muscle rigidity can cause numerous painful conditions, including Sciatica. Stretching these muscles can relieve lower back pain, some types of knee pain, leg pain, numbness and tingling in the legs, and some leg muscle fatigue.
How do I do it? : For this exercise you will need an object that you can grasp in both hands with a weight range of 3 to 10 lbs (anything will do – I use my son’s toy fire truck). Stand with your feet pointing straight forward shoulder width apart. Bend your knees just enough so they are not locked (this will assure the only muscles being stretched are the hamstrings instead of the calves) and keep your back straight. Hold your weighted object in both hands against the front of your body, allowing your arms to relax as much as possible. Allow your body to slowly bend at the waist, using the weighted object to pull you down, until you have reached a point where you feel a pulling sensation in the back of your legs. Make sure your back stays straight as you move, as bowing your back can cause muscle strains. Count to ten while in this position, making sure to ease up if pain occurs. After counting rise slowly into the original standing position, making sure to keep your back straight. Repeat this process for a set of 10, doing at least 3 sets in a day.
Helpful Hints : This stretch is designed for beginners in mind, especially those who do not have a great range of motion in their legs. As you progress in this stretch you may increase the count from 10 to 15, as well as adding extra sets in a day. This stretch is designed to be safe and slow, so progress may not show right away, but it should minimize the opportunities for pain. When beginning stretching there will be discomfort, which can be misconstrued as pain; however, if you experience discomfort that does not diminish when you stand straight you may be pushing your stretch too far, and you should ease up on the distance you bend.