Key to Knee Pain: Work on your Hamstrings
1. Hamstring Foam Roll
Often weak and overworked, the hamstrings are prone to tightness and injury.For many people the quads are stronger than the hamstrings, and this leads to muscle imbalances and injuries. Use the foam roller to strengthen your hamstrings and help prevent injury.
- Sit with both legs straight out in front of you with the foam roller under your upper legs. Place your arms on the ground behind you to prop your upper body up off the floor.
- Roll up and down the upper legs between the hips and knees. If you feel a spot that’s tender or tight, spend more time working that particular area. Perform the roll for 15 to 30 seconds.
2. Hamstring Front Leg Swing
Dynamic movements allow the use of controlled momentum to exaggerate our range of motion, thereby creating more elasticity in the muscle. This stretch warms up the hamstring muscle and is excellent for activities that require kicking or fast leg movements.
- Support your body with your left foot planted and left hand on a wall or doorway. In a continuous flow, bend your right leg behind you and kick it forward until it’s fully extended. Bend the leg back to the start position.
- Start with a range of motion well within your comfort zone and gradually increase the speed and height of the kick. Repeat this movement for one set of 8 to 12 reps on each leg.
3. Walking Hamstring Stretch
Dynamic movements are very important to complete prior to an activity. This stretch properly warms up the hamstrings for any activity that involves walking,running, bending, or sitting, to name only a few.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides.Keep your core engaged and posture aligned throughout the movement.
- Fully extend your right arm and left leg in front of your body. Keep your leg as straight as possible and your toe pointed toward the ceiling. The movement should be fairly slow and controlled.
- Return your right arm to your side and your left leg to the floor as you move forward. Switch sides by extending your left arm and right leg in front of your body to complete the stretch on the opposite side.Continue the sequence for 8 to 10 reps for each leg.
4. Lateral Lunge
Most of our lower body locomotive efforts occur in the forward direction during our daily activities. This leads to underuse of the inner and outer leg muscles, causing tightness and weakness in the upper leg. This stretch improves the mobility of these muscles that play an important role in hip strength and balance.
- Start by standing with your feet positioned flat on the floor, wider than shoulder width apart, and your arms relaxed at your sides.
- Extend your arms in front of your body as you lift your left leg and take a lateral step 2 to 3 feet to the left. Keep your right leg straight as you press your hips back.Feel the stretch along your upper thighs. Return to the starting position. Repeat the lunge on the right side and complete 8 to 12 reps on each leg.