Hamstring, in human anatomy is a tendon group contracted by four rear thigh muscles stretching from the hips to the calf. This muscle and tendon groups cross and act upon two joints, namely, the hip and the knee. It is responsible for lifting the pelvis and bending the knee. The hamstrings play an important and critical role in numerous daily activities such as running, walking, jumping, and controlling movement in the trunk. When the knee is bent, the short and long heads of the biceps femoris flex the knee and outwardly rotate the lower leg.
Muay Thai, like other competitive contact fighting sports requires body conditioning designed to promote the fighter’s level of fitness and toughness, Muay Thai fighters usually engage in rigorous training regimens that include running, shadow boxing, rope jumping, body weight resistance exercises and other weight training exercises. And because of these training exercises, it is important that the muscles are conditioned before a fight. While other sports focus more on the front thighs instead of the back, injuries of the hamstring are very common. The kicks used in Muay Thai require the use of this muscle group and in order to avoid injuries of the hamstrings some stretching exercises for the hamstring are recommended. Most of these exercises are to be held for no longer than ten seconds.
Sitting Hamstring Stretches
This stretch exercise targets both the hamstrings and the lower back.
- Forward Bend with Rounded Back
- Sit on the floor and extend both legs stretched out in front of you, legs together.
- Fold your torso over the thighs, gently rounding the back but keeping the legs straight. A forward straight bend should be held bending from the waist, not the back.
- Hold the position for ten seconds and then sit up and relax. The stretch can be repeated up to three times.
- Hurdler Stretch
- This version of Muay Thai stretch for hamstring targets one leg at a time.
- Sit on the floor, straighten your left leg in front of you and the right knee is bent, placing the sole of the right foot against the left inner thigh.
- Fold over the left leg while keeping the back straight.
- Hold for ten seconds, then switch legs.
- This can be repeated 3 times for each leg.
Standing Hamstring Stretches
This is one of the best exercises to strengthen, train and stretch out hamstrings in a standing position. This exercise aims to bend from the waist and abdomen instead of the lower back and try to touch the front knee with the forehead and with both knees kept straight.
- Stand and cross your right foot in front of your left.
- Slowly lower your forehead to your right knee by bending at the waist.
- Keep both knees straight.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds. Relax before repeating the exercise for the left foot in front of your right foot. This can be repeated at least two times for each leg.
Lying Down Hamstring Stretches
This exercise requires warming up of the abs muscles because they will be needed for holding the leg in position.
- Lying down on the floor, place one foot against the wall.
- Start lifting one leg in 90 degree angle while pushing the other towards the floor.
- Hold the position for a maximum of ten breaths.
- For building strength, one can start with three breaths at a time.
Another version of the hamstring stretch on the floor is lifting the leg not just in 90 degree angle but as high as possible – above the head with the knees unbent. The self-stretch version would require holding on to the knee with one hand while the stretch can be completed with the help of a partner who pushes the leg further. Each side stretch should be repeated three times, taking a few seconds rest in between the shift.