The hamstrings function to flex your knee and extend the hip, enabling some of the most essential lower-body activities such as walking, running and climbing. Due to the location the hamstrings insert into, they also function to assist the collateral ligaments in stabilizing the knee joint. Additionally, part of the hamstring group works to rotate the hip internally and externally. Phew! That’s a lot of work for three muscles! With so much constant stress on this muscle group, it’s crucial to keep them happy and healthy. 

While strength training and stretching the hamstrings are critical- a little massage and release can also assist in lengthening the muscles, reducing injury and inflammation. 

Equipment Needs

  • Lacrosse ball, tennis ball or golf ball
  • Tall chair, stool or table

Muscle Groups Targeted

  • Biceps femoris, Semimembranosus and Semitendinosus

How to

  1. Sit on a hard chair or table that is high enough off the ground so that your legs hang.
  2. Place the lacrosse ball under your thigh, starting just above the back of the knee joint. 
  3. Lean forward and rest your arm and body weight on the same thigh to apply extra pressure.
  4. Slowly bend and extend your knee for approximately 30 seconds.
  5. Move the ball up the hamstrings towards the hips (ischial tuberosity) and repeat – weight on the thigh, slow bend and extends the knee for 30 seconds. 
  6. Continue this until you reach the origin of the hamstrings (right up to your sit bone). 
  7. Repeat on the other side.

Recommended sets and repetitions

  • 45-60 seconds, repeat one to two times per side as needed

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By Jenni Varughese

Jenni is an exercise specialist and instructor at MacEwan University Sport and Wellness. Certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, Jenni has worked with a great range of clientele – predominantly those with chronic disease, pre/post-op orthopedic surgery, and mental health challenges.