What’s the best way to stretch the hamstrings?

The Introduction

hamstringsDespite its widespread use in sport, one area of sport science that has not been looked at in depth is stretching and flexibility. Coaches and clinicians all recommend stretching and most athletes do it as part of warm-up and cool down as well as part of normal training to prevent injury. Previous research has shown that:

  • 3-4 sets of stretches should be done with each stretch held for 30 seconds.
  • Best results come from 5 or more sessions a week.
  • Ballistic (bouncing) stretches are less effective and may cause injury.
  • PNF (contract-relax) type stretches may be more effective than static stretches.

The two basic types of stretching include active stretching, in which range of motion is increased through voluntary contraction (bouncing and PNF), and passive stretching, in which range of motion is increased through external assistance (holding or using a towel or band). This study aimed to determine which of four types of stretching is most effective in improving hamstring length. The results have strong implications for all of we masters athltes who MUST stretch!

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