Welcome friend! In this post you will learn about the best hamstring stretches for seniors and why you should do them.
The hamstrings are a muscle group most people don’t really think about during their life unless there’s a problem.
They are located at the back of your thighs and perform their work
What you might not realize is that the hamstrings are one of the strongest and most important muscle groups of your body.
Your ability to walk, move and lift objects is directly related to your hamstring strength and mobility.
Because these muscles are very strong and powerful, they can also cause a lot of trouble when they are not functioning correctly.
The most common problem stemming from tight hamstrings are postural issues that can result in lower back pain and other dysfunctions.
Tight and weak hamstrings are very common in people of any age these days because we are so sedentary.
Seniors are especially at risk because aging reduces the elasticity of muscles and connective tissue.
The good news is that muscles react very well to the correct type of training. Your hamstrings can become more flexible and strong with just a few minutes of stretching every day.
Let’s start by talking a bit about the anatomy of the hamstrings before moving on to the stretches.
What Are The Hamstrings
The hamstrings are powerful leg muscles located at the back of your thighs. They are like large rubber bands running from your pelvis to the back of the knee.
They are actually a group of muscles with three different muscles on each leg. It’s not important to know the individual names of these for our purposes since they are essentially responsible for the same functions.
What makes the hamstrings special is that they are responsible for two functions that are extremely important for walking, running, jumping, and lifting.
They extend the hips and flex the knees. Because these muscles are very strong and elastic they can do this very strongly and efficiently.
Just like the calf muscles, they store kinetic energy when they are stretched during walking and running, making movement much more efficient.
Hamstrings are also very important for overall control of the hip and knee so they play a critical role in the health of these joints.
Hamstrings also have a critical role in your ability to maintain balance as I talked about in the article Standing Balance Exercises For Seniors.
Problems With Tight Hamstrings
So it’s no surprise that hamstring strength is very important for athletic performance. Athletes in many sports focus on hamstring mobility, strength, and explosiveness.
But that doesn’t mean that hamstring mobility and strength aren’t important in everyday living if you are not an athlete. On the contrary.
When your hamstrings are tight and weak they can affect your posture and ability to move. Since they connect to the pelvis, they can pull it into a forward tilt.
This can cause discomfort and lower back pain. The glutes and the muscles of the lower back will work inefficiently causing all sorts of complex issues down the line.
Tight and weak hamstrings are also prone to injury. If you have to sprint or jump for any reason it can cause a pull or even a tear in the hamstrings.
This can also happen if you slip or stumble and scramble to regain balance as I talked about in the article Fall Prevention Exercises For Seniors.
Tight hamstrings can also make walking inefficient, affecting your ability to move around independently. They can also affect your knee stability and cause knee pain.
Let’s Stretch Those Hamstrings
So we have established that tight hamstrings can cause all sorts of issues ranging from back pain to muscle tears and inefficient walking.
The good news is that there is a lot you can do to improve your hamstring flexibility and strength.
Muscles respond very well to stretching. The hamstrings have a lot of connective tissue like tendons and fascia which take a bit longer to adapt than the actual muscle tissues.
This is why hamstrings are a bit harder to stretch than some other muscle groups but all it means is it takes a bit more time to see results.
The correct way to stretch is very similar to the correct way of strength training. Gradual and consistent as I talked about in the post Weight Training For Men Over 60.
This is where most people fail. They try to do too much at a time and then forget about the next session. This usually only leads to pain and disappointment.
That’s why it’s important to form a routine for stretching. A minute a day is better than an hour every two weeks.
Finally, it’s important to remember that hamstrings don’t function alone. They do the work together with the glutes and the quadriceps. And even the calves.
That’s why it’s important to stretch and strengthen all of these muscles. This helps to avoid muscle imbalances that can cause postural issues and lower back pain as we talked about.
Besides stretching it is also important to strengthen these muscles. Strength training performed with a full range of motion will help improve flexibility while building strength both in the muscles and ligaments.
Best Hamstring Stretches For Seniors
There are several different kinds of stretches for the hamstrings. You probably remember the common flexibility test from your youth where
The problem with stretches that involve reaching for your toes or the ground is that you can also flex your spine. Depending on your individual proportions you might reach the ground with your palms even if your
I personally think the most efficient hamstring stretch is the standing hamstring stretch. In this stretch, you lift your leg on a stool or a step with a straight knee.
Then you simply lean forward from your hip (not from your lower back, keep the back straight). You should feel a stretch on the hamstring.
As you progress, you can increase the height of the step to increase the stretch.
Another great dynamic stretch is leg swings. They activate and warm up the hamstrings while simultaneously gently stretching the muscles on each swing. They are also great for stretching the
Cindy from Fitness With Cindy YouTube Channel has made a great video about hamstring stretches for seniors that show these exercises better than I could ever explain in text.
Here’s Cindy’s great (YouTube embed, content not owned or created by ElderStrength.com) tutorial on these exercises:
I hope you found this short guide about hamstring stretches for seniors useful. If you have any questions you can leave them in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to help you out.
The hamstrings are a powerful and important muscle group that is tight and weak in many people due to too much sitting and lack of activity.
Fortunately, they respond very well to stretching and strength training. Improving your hamstring flexibility and strength is very beneficial for your health for several reasons.
Just remember that stretching doesn’t produce results instantly. It takes time and gradual progress. That’s why it’s better to stretch a bit every day and make it a routine.
This way you will avoid pain and injury while seeing great results over time. Remember that patience and consistency is key here.
Thanks for reading and see you next time!