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hamstring flexibility

The only way that I feel I can stretch my hamstrings is when my knees are flexed 5-10 degrees short of full extension. If my knees are fully extended I get a painful sensation in the popliteal region when I try to stretch. It really feels like the pain is coming from the calves origin. Anyway, I perform poorly on the sit and reach test even though I have good flexibility in my other joints. If anyone has insight into the cause of my problem or possible solutions it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks YG

Try stretching your gastrocnemius muscles first, then progress into any of the various hamstring stretches. Also, you may want to try simultaneously stretching the gastroc and hamstring muscles. To do this, lie on your back with both legs straight. Raise your right leg ~40 degrees relative to the floor(keeping your right knee straight, left leg and both hips flat on the floor), using a large towel placed aroung the ball of your right foot, pull the towel towards your body. You should feel the stretch behind the knee. Hold for ~30 seconds and then repeat for the left leg. This can also be done using a partner instead of the towel. Another method that also works requires you to place the balls of both feet on a slightly elevated platform(~2-3" - this position resembles a standing double leg calf stretch). Once in this position, slowly flex forward at the waist keeping the knees straight. Try to touch your toes or go as far as your flexibility allows. As your flexibility improves, try to raise the height of the platform.

I have used these methods with much success with many clients who present with extreme tightness in the popliteal region. Since the hamstring group, gastrocnemius, and popliteus muscles all cross the knee joint, it is not uncommon to feel the stretch in the back of the knee if one of these muscles are extremely tight.

Thanks for the advice, I will incorporate those methods into my stretching program.

Do you warm up before you stretch. It helps me immensely. I had the same problem for a while, but i just kept working at it and eventually got through it. Just take it slow.

Men generally tend to be tighter in the hamstrings than women. Also, it’s probably not an area that you concentrate on either. However, PNF stretches are highly effective for hamstrings. Hold your stretch for 20 to 30 seconds (whichever way you do it), release for about 5 seconds and then stretch again. On the second stretch you should find that you can stretch more. For example, if you are on your back and pull the leg towards your chest, on the second stretch you can bring that leg closer into your chest. Daily practise of this type of stretch, warming up beforehand, and working your hamstrings should all increase your flexibility there.

I wouldnt suggest PNF before sprints/heavy running, in my experience ive always did this (after an initial pull) and it did keep a pull from re happening, but the hamstrings always felt tight and cramped. Recently ive just done WU, then 2 sets of foot elevated streches for 30 sec each, no pulls and no cramping. PNF does increase flexibility a lot but it can be too much for me anyways before practice.

If you feel a stretch right behind your knee cap, then your stretching the hanstring tendons (not good). Try PNF before a workout amd when you do the hamstring stretch, make sure your back is arched. Any fool can look good with a rounded back. Be an athlete and arch it.