The hamstring stretch
- Stand on one leg and place the other leg straight out in front of you on top of a table, chair or other stable object. The outstretched leg should be close to parallel with the ground.
- Gently bend forward and slide your hands towards the elevated foot until you begin to feel the stretch behind your knee.
- Repeat on your other leg.
Technique tip – Perform the same stretch, but bend the knee of your outstretched leg slightly. This will target the portion of your hamstrings closer to your buttocks.
- Stand on one foot and hold on to a wall or solid object for balance.
- Reach behind your back and grab the foot of your free hanging leg, pulling your heel towards your bottom.
- Pull it in gently until you feel tension in the muscles in the front of your thigh, and repeat on the opposite leg.
- Technique tip – If your heel actually touches your bottom and you don’t feel a stretch, make sure you are standing up straight, that the knee of the leg being stretched is behind the knee of the leg you are standing on, that your hips are slightly forward, and your shoulders are slightly back.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent at approximately 90 degrees. Keeping your right foot on the ground at this stage, rest your left ankle on your right thigh, just above your knee.
-Bring your right thigh towards you, and grab it with both hands. Your left hand should reach through your legs, while your right hand can grab the back of your right thigh from the side.
-Gently pull the right thigh towards you, which will also pull your left ankle closer to you, and begin to stretch your left buttock. Repeat on the opposite leg.
Technique tip – Pull your thigh back slowly and gently. If you feel any pain or discomfort in your knee, stop immediately.
- Sit on the floor and bring the soles of your feet in together towards your buttocks so they are touching.
- Slowly press your knees towards the floor while keeping your back straight.
- If you don’t feel the stretch, lean a little forwards, and push down a little harder on your knees.
Technique tip – You can also pull your heels closer towards your bottom to get a better stretch.
Calf / Achilles stretch
- Stand facing a wall or solid object, placing both hands up against it, and reaching one leg back behind you.
- Keep the heel of your back foot on the ground and your rear leg straight as you lean forwards towards the wall. If you don’t feel the stretch, move your hands lower, and place your foot further back behind you. Keep your back straight and your abs tight, and repeat on the other leg.
Technique tip – Perform exactly the same stretch, except bend your back knee. This will help to target your lower calf and Achilles tendon.
Six steps to safe stretching
1. Follow these tips to ensure that stretching prevents injury, not contributes to it
2. Ease gradually into and out of each stretch
3. Avoiding bouncing, jerky movements, and don’t stretch to the point of pain
4. Hold stretches for at least 10 – 20 seconds
5. Don’t stretch cold muscles. You can stretch after warming up (especially if you are sprinting), however, the best time is after exercise but before cooling down.
6. Stretch at least three times per week for the best results