Sometimes it pays to revisit some basics… the basics like effective hamstring stretching.
This is an area that a surprising number of runners always seem to get get slightly wrong!
In this quick video above, I explain and demonstrate the difference between a stretch which brings on an intense feeling behind the knee, and a true stretch of the hamstring muscles. I call this exercise a ‘bent knee hamstring stretch’, or ‘reverse hamstring stretch’ as you push back into the stretch from a flexed knee.
Sciatic Tension vs Hamstring Stretch
The intense feeling or ‘burn’ behind the knee that many runners associate with feeling a hamstring stretch is often actually the feeling of increasing tension on the sciatic nerve as you lean forward… rather than the targeted hamstring muscles themselves.
Instead we should be looking to create a stretching feeling in the muscle belly of each of those hamstring muscles (middle of the posterior thigh), using the hamstring stretch in the video. Try it! 🙂Last updated on March 2nd, 2021.
Excellent advice! Keep your hips square too!
Thank you for this. Would this ‘hamstring belly’ stretch work as well in a runner’s lunge position? (low lunge, back knee on the floor). I get my runners to perform this lunge, then sit back until the front leg straightens a little – but not hugging the leg as in the video. Thoughts welcome.
The “runner’s lunge” position is exactly how I get people to do this if they don’t have a raised surface to use. I use the combined cues of hugging the front thigh gently, pivoting on the front heel, and pushing the butt backwards to achieve extending of the front knee and stretching of the hamstrings. Hope you can picture that!
Great tip, thanks. Daft question, but how would you adapt this if there is not a convenient bench available?! Thanks
Great question! See my reply to Lexie directly above for an answer 🙂
James nevet new i was stretching the sciatic nerve when doing it the traditional way. Thanks for the tip. Good thing when you do a squating stretch to get your glutes that it gets the belly of the hamstring as well just a little.