As the head strength & conditioning coach for the LA Lakers, part of my job is to make sure players stretch and warm-up correctly before they lift or play. This can be a challenge given that when players aren't playing in games/practices there's a great chance that they are sitting on a bus or airplane. Whether you're sitting all day at work or you're a high level athlete, sitting can cause your hip flexors and hamstrings to get tight and cranky.
When it comes to being an athlete or getting physical activity of any kind, tight hips/hammy's are bad for business. Tightness in these areas can be the source of poor performance, back pain or the dreaded hip/hamstring muscle strain. This stretch is a great way to fight off the ill-effects of sitting and prep your hips/hamstrings for action all at the same time.
- 1 knee down on a pad.
- Long step with the other foot, using your heel as the contact point.
- Use a dowel or foam roller for balance if necessary.
- Slowly rock back as you straighten the lead knee until you feel a comfortable stretch behind the knee/in the hamstring.
- Slowly rock forward into a bent knee position of the lead knee to feel a stretch in the front of the opposite hip and repeat.
- Avoid allowing your low back to arch excessively or go into extension at any point during the stretch.
- Keep your core active and don't allow your bellybutton to migrate down and away from your rib cage.
- As you rock back into lead knee extension, stop before you reach a locked knee position.
- Work to keep your glute or butt cheek active on the side that the knee is down on the pad.
USES: This stretch is great prior to a lower body lift, before running/sprinting, as a warm-up for any sport/activity, as part of a recovery/mobility session or as a break from sitting throughout the day at school/work.
BONUS: This is more than just a stretch! The action of loading the lower hamstrings as you lengthen them in an eccentric fashion, while rocking back into lead knee extension on this stretch is important. This helps to prepare and strengthen the hamstrings for the demands of running, sprinting, changing direction and decelerating.
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Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS is the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and founder of TD Athletes Edge. He is nationally renowned for his evidence-based and scientific approach to fitness, training, nutrition, and recovery for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
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