It's likely you've heard of a pulled hamstring. Maybe you've watched as your favourite sports player suddenly stopped, grasping the back of their thigh. You might have experienced it yourself or know someone who's been struck by this troublesome injury. You may not realise the importance of hamstrings until you injure them.
What are the hamstrings and what do they do?
Your hamstrings are formed by a mighty trio of muscles: the biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus. Together they create a powerful muscular unit. Each one starts at what we often call our "sit bones" and runs down the back of our thigh, crossing near our hip and knee and ending in our lower leg. Where they attach determine what actions they trigger, but in general they play a crucial role in walking, running and jumping.
How can you protect against injury?
Tight hamstrings can affect all of these movements and limit mobility. Having flexible, lengthened hamstrings supports the knee, hip and spine. The stretch that's best for you depends on your body and its ability; but here's a stretch you can do from a chair which is often recommended.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Sit on a chair. Position your bottom towards the front of the seat.
Place one leg out straight, rest your heel on the ground and raise your toes towards your body.
Keeping your spine upright and straight, bend forward from your hip. When you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh, hold this position for 30 seconds.
Rest and repeat. Swap sides.
Spend time stretching and warming up before you exercise, and take care not to overwork them. Remember: stretches should feel like a stretch. They should not cause pain.
If you experience consistent tightness in the back of the legs, there may be other underlying problems that are causing it, and stretching may not be appropriate for you. Make an appointment with your Chiropractor to get help identifying the true issue and finding the right treatment for your body.