The hamstrings are the one part of the body that most women seem to have the most pain in when exercising. This pain is more often than not caused by improper or insufficient hamstring stretching. When you don’t stretch out your hamstrings properly and frequently enough, they can cause all sorts of pain in areas all over your body including your back, your hips, your knees, your shins and even your ankles and the arches of your feet! Take a few minutes to learn some great ways to stretch and strengthen your hamstrings.

The following exercises should be done from once to three times a week, as long as they do not cause pain or increase pain that you already had. Also keep in mind that you shouldn’t do them two days back to back, you need to allow one day for your hamstrings to recover. Once you notice the strength of your hamstrings increasing you can then start upping the reps and resistance of each exercise as long as they don’t cause pain or worsen pain you already had.

The Bridge

You start this exercise by laying on your back  with your knees bent and your feet firmly on the floor. Then slowly lift your butt as you push through your feet. Keep lifting until your knees, keeps and shoulders are in a straight line. As you hold the position for 2 seconds, tighten the back of your thighs (you’ll feel it in your hamstrings). Then slowly lower back to the starting position. Do three sets of 10, as long as you have no pain.

Resistance Band Hamstring Curl

To do this exercise, lay down on your stomach with the resistance band around your ankle, with the other end closed in a door or around something heavy and low to the ground. If you can’t find anything you can hold the other end down with your foot that is not being used. Then slowly bend your knee as you tighten the back of your thigh, you’ll feel it in your hamstring again. Do three sets of ten of this one also.

Modified Bridge with Chair

Start by laying on your back with your heels on the seat of a chair in front of you. You should bend your knees so that your hips and knees are at a right angle. Now, digging your heels into the seat of the chair, lift your hips upward. Keep lifting until your knees, hips and shoulders align. Hold the position for 3 seconds then slowly lower down. Repeat for twenty reps, taking a break half way through.

Exercise Ball Hamstring Curl

To do this exercise you’ll need one of those big exercise balls. First, lay down and position yourself in the bridge with your calves resting on the ball. Then, balance your weight on your shoulders as you spread your arms toward your sides. Be sure you’re keeping your heels firmly on the exercise ball as you begin to lift your hips and torso off the floor. Meanwhile you’ll also be trying to pull the ball toward you. Do three sets of ten.