NOTE - you will need access to a foam roller and a lacrosse ball to perform the exercises in this article.
The hamstrings may be the most problematic muscle group that I’ve seen in my years as a trainer and massage therapist. They (the hamstrings) cross more than one joint, and commonly contribute to pain and injury in the knees and lower back.
In our sedentary culture, the hamstrings are often chronically shortened by sitting, which further exacerbates follow-on issues. The worst part? Hamstring mobility can be REALLY unpleasant, so many of us avoid it. Foam rolling, lacrosse ball release, and stretching the hamstrings all have many benefits including improving circulation and oxygen to that muscle group, mitigating the damage caused by chronic sitting, breaking up adhesions on the muscle, and potentially providing pain relief in the lower back and knees. Not sure where to start? Take a look at the guide below.
Foam roll hamstrings (2:00)
Begin seated on the ground with the foam roller against the backs of your thighs. Use your hands to lift your hips off of the ground, and push yourself forward/pull yourself backward to roll along the length of the upper legs. Avoid the backs of the knees.
Lacrosse ball hamstring release (1:00 per side)
*Only do this after the hamstrings have been sufficiently warmed up and rolled out. This one requires a lacrosse ball (if that wasn’t made obvious by the title), and a surface to sit on that allows you to sit with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle without your foot touching the floor. Begin by placing the lacrosse ball under the upper hamstrings of one leg with your knee fully relaxed.
Slowly extend your knee (lift your foot up so that your leg straightens), and then release the knee back to its starting position. Repeat this movement 4-5 times, and then move the lacrosse ball down the leg (toward the foot) by 2-3 inches.
As mentioned in the beginning of the book - if you feel any tingling down the leg, “pins and needles” sensations, or feel the foot falling asleep - MOVE the lacrosse ball off of the spot that it’s on; usually an inch or so to the left or right will do the trick.
Banded hamstring stretch (with/without range of motion)
Begin lying on your back with the band around the arch of one foot. Keep the knee extended and both hips on the ground, and pull the band toward your head until you feel a stretch in the back of the working leg. ***This stretch can also be done with a towel, old t-shirt, etc..
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