Healthier Hamstring Stretching
One of the most common stretches for the hamstrings is bending over from a stand to touch the toes. You already know that bending over with straight legs to pick up a package is unhealthy for your back. Bending over to stretch is just as unhealthy. Forward bending puts large forces on the discs of your lower back, and is not even a highly effective stretch for your hamstrings. Bending over to touch toes is a common contributor to back pain, whether you keep your back rounded or straight. I will show you more about exactly why in future posts.
Instead of bending over to stretch, or standing with one foot propped up on a bench or chair, an effective way to stretch the hamstring is to stand facing a wall and press one heel against the wall at about hip height.
- Keep your standing foot straight, not turned out; not even a small amount.
- Look down and see if your standing foot is facing straight ahead.
- Move your foot so that it is straight, or you will lose the stretch. As soon as you turn your standing foot straight, you will feel the stretch improve.
- Lift your chest and stand straight.
- Don't let your hip curl under.
- Smile and breathe.
- Hold a few seconds and switch legs.
Stretching is supposed to be healthy. When you stretch, don't practice bad posture habits by rounding your back, and don't practice things you know aren't healthy like bending over so that your body weight hinges on your lower back.
Stretch in ways to make your life healthier.
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Drawings copyright by Dr. Jolie Bookspan from the book Stretching Smarter Stretching Healthier
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