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Hamstring Flexibility Exercises For Soccer

The hamstrings play an important role in running and can be easily injured if not flexible. Tight hamstrings can lead to low back and knee pain as well. The primary functions of the hamstrings are to extend the hip and flex the knee. This group of muscles is comprised of the biceps femoris, semimembranosus and semitendinosus. While running, the hamstrings extend the hip during the ground phase moving the body forward. As the heel strikes the ground it must lengthen to load the leg and prepare it for acceleration. Flexible muscles are able to produce more force and prevent injuries.

There are three different types of stretches included in this article. Two are active stretches that utilize the reciprocal inhibition principle and the third is an active assistive stretch. The active stretches involve contracting the opposing muscles, in this case the quadriceps and hip flexors. When the opposing muscles contract, it inhibits the contraction of the primary muscle (hamstrings), allowing it to stretch more effectively. The active assistive stretch is the same as the active one except an additional force is exerted by the stretcher to increase the intensity of the stretch.

In the first stretch, the stretcher pushes one heel into the ground, while raising the other with the knee fully extended. In the active assistive version an additional force to enhance the stretch by pulling on a stretch out strap or towel. The second stretch begins lying down with the thigh perpendicular to the floor and the knee flexed. Extend the knee to stretch the hamstrings. On all exercises, hold the stretch for 3 to 5 seconds and repeat 5 to 10 times on each side. These exercises can be performed daily and should also be used before and after activity such as practices, training and strength workouts. When stretching, move to a point of resistance and slightly beyond. Stretching should not be painful.

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