Hamstring stretches increase flexibility in seniors.
Tight hamstring muscles in the back of your legs can contribute to a loss of flexibility in your knees and your low back with age -- this can lead to discomfort in those areas. According to the IDEA Health and Fitness Association, your flexibility can decrease up to 50 percent as you reach your senior years. If you are a senior, stretching can help you maintain or increase your flexibility.
A standing hamstring stretch can be done with or without a prop for support. Extend one leg in front of your body, flex the foot and keep your heel on the ground as you flex. Tilt forward from your hips with a flat back -- between 20 and 40 degrees or to the point of tension in your calf and hamstring. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat with your other leg. If you struggle with your balance during this stretch, hold on to the top of a chair or place a hand on a wall for support.
A seated hamstring stretch is done while sitting on the edge of a chair. Place one leg out straight in front of your body. Flex your foot as you lean slightly forward until you feel tension in the back of your leg. Grasp the sides of the chair for support if needed. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Floor or Bench
For a seated hamstring stretch on the floor or on a long bench, sit with your legs straight out in front of your upper body. Flex your feet and gently lean forward; keep your back flat as you tilt forward. As you start to feel tension in your calves and hamstrings, stop and hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat two or three times.
A reclining or supine hamstring stretch is done while lying on the floor or on a bench -- you can use a yoga strap, towel or the assistance of trainer or partner for this exercise. To stretch with a towel or yoga strap, lie on your back and bring one knee toward your chest. Place the towel or strap underneath your foot and slowly straighten your leg up toward the ceiling. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and then repeat with the other leg. To stretch with the assistance of a partner, lie on your back and have your partner help you slowly bring one leg off the floor and straighten it out. Flex your elevated foot to stretch the calf and hamstring as your partner holds your leg for support.
Before starting any exercise or stretching program, consult your doctor. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you stretch at least two days of week. If you feel stiff or have tight hamstring muscles, stretching can be done daily. Stretch only to the point of tension to reduce your risk for injury.