The hamstring muscles are the muscles that run down the back of the upper legs. they are a very explosive and springy muscle that is used a lot in running.
Ask any athlete about the stretching routine for before and after exercise and they will always mention a hamstring stretch. This is because the thought of a snapping hamstring will make anybody cringe.
The hamstring stretch is a great example of where the pilates technique can get a very common exercise or stretch and with a slight change make it far more effective.
The hamstring stretch can however be of even greater assistance for anybody who has endured the dreaded sciatic pain.
A common cause of sciatic pain (or sciatica) is where tight hamstrings cause tension on this nerve, which runs from between the vertabrae in the lower back down the inside of either leg. This pain which is often referred to other lower back or hip areas can be excruciating.
Even if you are not suffering from discomfort from either of these situations it is good to keep this muscle in a flexible state.
Stand near a firm surface approximately hip height with your hips parallel to this object and your back in an upright position.
Lift one leg up onto the surface keeping your back in a vertical position. Move your chest towards the object until there is resistance from the back of the upper legs.
Take a deep breath.
While slowly exhaling, move your chest closer to the object over the duration of the breath maintaining the stretch on the hamstring muscles. It is very important that you do not gain advantage by bending your back. this should merely be hinging at your hips.
When exhaled, hold the position and take another deep breath.
While exhaling, continue to push in the same direction.
Repeat this for ten breaths, pressing further each time.
Repeat with the other leg.