Whether you are just starting a new workout plan or are an avid athlete, exercise has the tendency to cause aches and pains. One of the most common issues that athletes and newly active individuals both experience is tightness in the hamstrings. This issue is particularly complicated to identify and even remedy, though, as it often manifests as pain or discomfort in other areas, such as the low back and hips. Experiencing pain in these areas, most individuals tend to attempt to remedy it by stretching out the back and hips. Stretching these areas may offer some temporary relief; however, it typically won’t correct the issue as the real problem lies in tight hamstrings. Correcting the tightness in the hamstrings is the only real way to correct this issue entirely.
Many individuals experience pain that radiates from the low back down into the hips and even the quads when participating in regular exercise. While this is sometimes an issue of the affected areas, it most commonly is a problem that stems from tight hamstrings. A number of different factors may contribute to this tightness, including shortening of the hamstrings, hamstring strain, or even over-activation of the hamstring itself. In any case, though, incorporating a few different lengthening exercises or stretches can alleviate pain and prevent further discomfort.
While there are many different stretches that activate the hamstrings, those that are most effective for relieving hamstring pain and low back and hip discomfort are those that lengthen the muscles. You can achieve this lengthening and relieve discomfort with a combination of exercises that utilize a simple exercise ball and chair. It is quite simple but is still very effective.
Relieving tightness in the hamstrings is not a difficult task to accomplish and does not require any complicated equipment. You can complete the necessary exercises using a sturdy athletic ball, like that used for lacrosse. Locating a ball for the exercises is relatively easy, as you can typically find one at a local sporting goods store or online. While you may be tempted to just use a tennis ball, it does not provide the stability required for the best stretch from the exercise.
To execute the exercises, you’ll need to situate the ball on a hard, smooth surface. A training platform is one option; however, a sturdy metal or wooden chair is typically more widely available. Upon choosing the appropriate chair or surface, place the ball on it and proceed to sit on top of the ball. For effective placement, you will want to make sure the ball is located in the center of the hamstring.
This hamstring stretch works in a very specific way to relieve hamstring pain. The ball places pressure on the muscle, causing it to lengthen or stretch out. As the muscle is fully extended, you can them move it over top of the ball, massaging the muscle. This movement is also referred to as “flossing.”
This movement also contracts the tight muscle slightly, providing for a loosening and release of the damaged tissue and blood in the muscle. As you continue the exercise and allow the muscle to release, new blood and nutrients flow into the muscle. These components of the exercise heal the damaged tissue and restore its regular length and motion.
It is important that you perform the exercise in the right way to get the most benefit from the movement. Correct placement of the ball in correlation to your body is also important.
Once you place your body on the chosen surface, make sure the ball is arranged directly beneath one hamstring. After placing the ball correctly, consider your weight placement. You should have enough weight on the ballot create comfortable pressure without pain. If the placement causes pain, readjust your body to one side or lift the leg to remove some of the weight. To create more pressure, simply press more firmly into the ball.
After adjusting the pressure, begin rotating the hamstring over the ball to massage or “floss” it. To do so, simply tighten your quadriceps muscle to gently extend the leg. You should feel a slight extension and contraction as you rotate the muscle over the ball.
To get the greatest benefit from the exercise, proceed until you have completed 10 sets. This practice should involve applying the stretch to the center, top, and bottom of the muscle. Working each side of the muscle ensures that you get a full stretch. The muscle will become looser the more you stretch it, so be sure to apply additional pressure as you go.
Completing 10 repetitions on each leg each day is enough. However, if you wish to do more, you can. You should notice a difference in your level of discomfort and tightness within just a few days.