Gate River Run training tips: Easy ways to stretch, loosen hamstrings

H2 Health shares some tips on stretching and training to avoid unnecessary aches and pains to prepare for the Gate River Run.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Each week leading up to the Gate River Run on March 20, H2 Health will provide tips for runners. This is the eighth of nine segments.

We’ve focused on hamstrings before during our path to the River Run. But this week, physical therapist Michael Bailey covers two very easy ways to gauge just how flexible those muscles are.

Gate River Run training tips

Week 1: Pay attention to those hamstrings

Week 2: It sounds simple, but make sure your gear is the right fit

Week 3: Astym, cupping are excellent recovery therapies

Week 4: Treadmill work can help in rehab or after a run

Week 5: Foam rolling is easy, effective way of stretching muscles

Week 6: Pain around kneecap is common, very treatable

Week 7: Using the plank to hit the core muscles

Runners know about hamstrings. When they’re pulled or tight, that can cause all types of problems.

Hamstrings need to be stretched. They need to be loose and flexible. And it’s simple to find out just how much work yours need with a couple of quick tests.

H2 Health physical therapist Michael Bailey said there are several good techniques to gauge just how much work a runner needs to put in on their hamstrings.

For a quick test, Bailey suggests lying down on your back and putting a leg vertical in the air. With the knee bending, try and stretch the leg out as straight as it can go in the air. A physical trainer can assist in helping straighten that leg. The hamstrings will tell you just how straight you can bend that leg, and, what work needs to be done to get there.

“I see a lot of runners that it can’t even bring the knee up to here,” Bailey said, gesturing to an assistant’s leg that he brought down to the shape of half of an uppercase Y.

“If the goal is going to be here [full leg extension with no bend] you need to start working on that if you can’t do a basic stretch hamstring stretch like that.”

Tight hamstrings can be a knee killer, Bailey said. An easy way to check that is for a runner to lie down on their stomachs. Females should be able to bring their leg far enough back that their foot can reach their glute muscle. It’s a similar distance for males.

To address those, Bailey said, is an easy fix.

Stand against a wall and on one leg. With your arms, pull your other knee up against your body.

“In order to pull your pelvis bones back, you actually have to pull up your knee. And then you’re going to push down,” Bailey said. “So, your force is going to be going to the ground. That’s effectively going to pull your pelvis bones back where they belong, before you run and after you run.”

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.