The Hamstrings is actually a muscle group made up of 3 distinct muscles: Biceps Femoris, Semitendinosus and Semimembranosus.
Hamstrings get a lot of use in the highly active: anyone who needs speed and strength while playing sport will be working out their Hamstrings, such as footballers, runners and swimmers, especially those doing front crawl.
Strangely enough though, Hamstrings can also play a big role in sitting for long periods of time. If the back and core muscles aren’t strong enough to stablise the torso, the Hamstrings take some of the strain.
So, if you are sitting at a desk or driving a lot, it’s worth checking to see if your Hamstrings are tight, especially if you have lower back ache, as this is one contributing factor with lower back pain.
You can check if your Hamstrings are tight and stretch them out with these simple tests:
Straight Leg Raise test
Lie on your back and put a cord around the bottom of one foot. This can be a scarf, towel, yoga belt, anything that’s twice as long as your leg and you can easily hold onto.
Hold one end of the cord in each hand and pull your leg upwards, keeping the knee locked so the leg is straight. Get as close to 90 degrees as you can. If you can’t lift your leg so it is at 80 degrees, your Hamstrings are short and tight.
You can turn this into a nice stretch by holding the position for 20-30 seconds, releasing and repeating twice, then 3 times on the other side.
Don’t force your leg up higher than it can go; hold when you feel a stretch. Over time you will be able to take your leg higher.
Sit and Reach test
Sit on the floor with your legs together and out straight in front of you. Bend forwards from the hips as far as you can. If you aren’t able to reach your toes, your Hamstrings are tight.
To use this as a stretch, reach forwards as far as you can and hold for 20-30 seconds, and do this 3 times. You can also do one leg at a time, as well as both together.
Hamstring exercises from Darebee.com:
This information is designed for use in consultation with a trained massage professional. You attempt without supervision at your own risk, so go gentle and take care.