If you’ve ever played sports, you’ve probably had a hamstring issue at one time or another. According to recent research, hamstring strains are the second most common injury in athletes (knee sprains were first) and are the most likely to become a chronic annoyance. Skip the pain, rehab and months of couch surfing: Do these four hamstring-focused moves as part of your warm-up to prevent injury and increase mobility over the long term.
Extend your arms in front of you at shoulder level, palms down. Keeping your legs straight, take a step forward and kick the other leg up to hit your same-side hand with your toes. Continue, alternating sides, for three rounds of 20 total steps.
If you’re tight: Begin with your kicking knee slightly bent. As you progress try to make your leg straighter and straighter.
If you’re flexible: Raise your hands to give yourself a higher target.
Air to Earth
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes forward, then reach both arms overhead and look up at the ceiling. Roll all the way down and reach your fingers toward the ground, letting your head hang between your arms. Repeat for three sets of 15 reps.
If you’re tight: Stand with your feet farther apart, moving them inward as you mobilize.
If you’re flexible: Stand with your feet closer together and aim to get your palms on the floor and your nose to your knees.
Stand sideways to a stable object and place one hand on it for balance. Shift your weight to the inside leg then swing your outside leg forward and back, keeping your hip loose and your leg as straight as possible. Do three sets of 15 total swings on each leg.
If you’re tight: Begin with your knee bent and perform lower swings; progress to straighter legs and higher swings.
If you’re flexible: Try to kick higher while keeping your lower back and pelvis as neutral as possible.
Step forward with your left leg and keep the knee soft as you hinge at the hips and reach your fingers toward the ground. Simultaneously raise your right leg behind you as high as you can. Don’t lock out the knee of the leg on which you’re standing. Lower the right leg and step it through. Continue, alternating sides, for three sets of 20 total steps.
If you’re tight: Allow your standing knee to bend slightly in order to reach the ground with your fingers.
If you’re flexible: Aim to touch your palms to thefloor with each. step and raise your rear leg as high as you can.