Stretching for MMA, Part III—Bent Knee Hamstring Stretch
Once you have stretched your calves and glutes well, you are ready to do the first stretch for hamstrings. This is done supine (lying on your back) with your non-stretching leg bent and your foot flat on the floor for support. Your stretching leg is positioned with your upper leg at roughly a 90 degree angle in relation to your upper body (and the floor). Your lower leg is at a 90 degree angle in relation to your upper leg.
This is the start position. Keep your foot dorsi-flexed (the opposite of pointing your toes) in the same position, your upper leg still, and activate your quadriceps to raise your lower leg.
Hold the stretch for 1 to 2 seconds and return to the start position. If you find the stretch is too difficult, adjust your start position. Instead of starting at 90 degrees, start with your leg at 105 degrees or greater in relation to your upper body. Use a rope or towel to assist if needed.
If the stretch is too easy, decrease the angle of your upper leg in the starting position to 75 degrees.
Do 3 to 10 repetitions per set and stretch both sides equally. Repeat sets as needed.
Hamstrings are a major area of injury for athletes. Healing this area quickly and/or preventing injury will keep you on the field. Previously I mentioned that utilizing a calf stretch first will help you to relax tissue so you can stretch your hamstrings. The next area to stretch is your glutes.
In my experience as a Stretch Therapist at Triangle Triggerpoint Therapy (www.triangletrigger.com) in Raleigh, NC, the area in the lower body that I see the most problems for people is the glutes. I think this is simply because it is not an area most people think about stretching. This can contribute to lower back pain and people “pulling” their hamstrings.
The glute stretch that will give you the best results is done from a supine position (lying on your back). Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor for support. Move your stretching leg so that it stays at a 90 degree angle but rotate at your knee to bring your foot and knee close enough to grab with your hands. This is the start position.
Breathe out and use your inner thigh muscles and hip flexors to activate into the stretch while supporting and assisting with your hands. Keep your lower leg level and in the same position during the stretch and only move your upper leg. This will isolate your glutes. Hold the stretch for 1 to 2 seconds and release.
Follow the technique illustrated on the Youtube video to perform 3 to 10 repetitions per set and stretch both sides equally. Repeat sets as needed.