A Comprehensive Runner’s Guide to Hamstring Stretches and Exercises
Runners rely on their legs and the various muscles in the lower half of the body to complete their stride. And one of the key muscles used in running in the hamstring. This is why it’s extremely important to do the best hamstring exercises for runners to strengthen this muscle, increase flexibility, as well as give the hamstring a good stretch.
Working out this muscle not only helps avoid injury like pulling the hamstring, but it also helps runners with their running form and posture. Best of all is hamstring workouts led to the ability to run faster and have more power.
In general, the hamstring is the muscle that allows the knee to bend. For runners, we wouldn’t be able to do what we love without it.
Runners should always start a workout with a dynamic warm-up to get the muscles ready for the work about to be put in. This should include a hamstring stretch or two.
But these hamstring exercises and stretches for runners can be done before starting the mileage or on cross-training days.
Workout Plan: Hamstring Exercises To Try
This is one of the most popular weightlifting exercises. And for good reasons. Runners get a good hamstring and quad workout with deadlifts. It also is great for the lower back, inners things and gluteus maximus.
Start with a dumbbell in each hand slightly bend knees. Bend over, pushing the butt back and up and hips in. As the runner is bending at the hips (make sure to keep a straight back), lower the dumbbells with arms remaining straight.
Go as low as you can go then use the hips and legs to push back up to the start.
This is another great hamstring exercise that works the legs muscles.
Proper form is everything here since different stances work out different muscle groups. Since the focus is on the legs, stand with straight legs. There should only be the smallest bend to the knee. So tiny it goes unnoticed but without the legs being locked in place.
With a kettlebell in hands, push the hips back and butt out with a straight back flat. Pull the kettlebell upwards, using he hips and engaging the glutes. As the kettlebell goes forward, stand up straight.
Raise the weight chest height then lower. Repeat.
Are bridges even a hamstring workout for runners? Yes, it is. That’s because the movement of the pelvis actually fires up the hamstring muscle.
This is a very easy exercise that can be done on any given day. Lay on an exercise mat eyes facing the ceiling. Bend the knees and keep arms stretched out straight. Use the hips to raise upwards, squeezing the glutes.
Hold for a few seconds then slowly lower back down. Repeat.
Hamstring Curls: Stability Ball
This is another of the best hamstring exercises for runners. It just requires a stability ball.
Lay on your pack and carefully place the stability ball underneath the legs and feet. It should be as high as the calves.
Lifting the legs on the ball requires the hips to be thrust forward. Keep the high up high. The back should be straight and arms extended outward for support.
Then engage the hamstrings and pull the ball inward towards the glutes. Try to get as close as possible. Hold and then pull the ball back out and lower hips. Repeat.
Machine Leg Curl
This exercise is part of one of the many leg machines available at the gym. It’s easy to use, just adjust for the amount of weight that suits the runner. This should be a moderate amount. The idea is to be able to do 12 to 15 reps for each set.
Set up the machine to fit the runner’s height and adjust the weight. The calves need to rest against the leg part of the equipment.
Then flex the knees to pull the legs to the hamstrings. Pause for a few seconds. Then slowly return to start.
Reverse Mountain Climbers
Want to talk about an exercise that engages the hamstring muscles? Try this one.
We all know what mountain climbers are. Now reverse the way to do them to activate the hamstrings.
All you need is two small towels and a hardwood or tile floor. Start on the back, knees bent and a towel under each heel.
Now raise the glutes as if doing a bridge. Then extend one foot at a time forward and back. Mimic the motion of running. Aim to move fast.
- Single-leg deadlift
Hamstring Stretches To Try
The hamstrings are one of the largest muscle groups. Which is why exercises and hamstring stretches are important for runners. Runners can make this muscle strong and flexible to be able to run faster.
But running sometimes causes tight hamstrings. This is also why stretches the hamstrings is important. Try the following stretches below.
This is one of the basic stretches to do. Sit on the ground with one leg fully extended out front with a slight bend at the knee and the other folded in like in a butterfly position.
Reach down and touch your toes. Only go as far down as you can, don’t force it. Try to go deeper on each exhale. Hold for up to 30-seconds and switch legs.
This is a stretch often seen done before a 5k. Standing upright, slightly bend the knee of the left leg. Extend the right leg with a locked knee and place the toes up so that only the heel is on the ground. Then bend forward and feel the hamstring stretch.
Hold for a few seconds and repeat on the other side.
This is another great hamstring stretch perfect before or after exercise.
Lay on the ground with one need knee 90-degrees. Lift the other leg off the floor with a towel around mid-foot. Bring that leg’s knee to the chest then kick upwards to make the leg straighten.
Feel the stretch and hold for a few seconds. Just make sure not to pull too hard on the towel.
Repeat on the other side.