Single leg series.
Description: A set of stretches in which you work one leg.
How to do it: Each stretch is shown below. Do each one of these on a side, then switch. Hold each stretch for 10 seconds.
|Knee to chest: Lie on your back. Grab one knee and pull it to your chest, rotating your hips as if you were going to look at your navel. Straighten the other leg, pointing your toes at the wall.||Grab toes: Roll slightly onto one side. Grab the toes of one leg and extend it, pulling the toes back. This gets the hamstrings, glutes, calf and the bottom of the foot.|
|Hip and quad stretch:Grab your ankle and with the leg at 90 degrees, pull it behind you until you feel a good stretch in the front of the thigh. Then you should try to pull the ankle to your butt. The first motion stretches the front of the hip, the second additionally stretches the quads. The picture has the first phase as shown on the left, then the final phase shown on the right.|
A flexibility test: This will check how much your hip can really move, plus tell you if you have glute weakness/misfiring. Get into the knee to chest stretch position, but draw up your down leg so that the foot is close to your butt. With the knee held as tightly to your chest as possible (some people say to try and hold a tennis ball in place between your chest and thigh), try to lift your butt off the floor. You should only be able to do this a few inches, at best. This is how much your hip really moves. The trick here is in keeping the other leg against your chest, since it makes it impossible to move your lower back.
Now, if you experienced hamstring cramping you have a problem with your gluteus maximus. This could either be weakness or due to misfiring. The latter can occur due to any number of reasons and is sometimes seen in healthy athletes but you should fix it. A common cause for this is using a knee curl machine, since this teaches the hamstring to do something it wasn’t really designed to do, flex the knee (it can do that, but was made to straighten the hip from a bent position, as in a deadlift, which you should consider doing.) A good way to retrain the glute is to get on all fours and raise one knee until it won’t go any further, hold it for 5 – 8 seconds, then repeat (pictured above). You will look a lot like a dog visiting a fire hydrant, I admit, but this is a great way to isolate the glutes and can teach you to fire it properly. If you want, try laying a stick on your back while you do this, either along the spine or at 90 degress to it. This enforces good form and keeps you from cheating by tilting the body.
While hamstring cramping here is not some sort of emergency, you should probably get so you can fire the glute since otherwise you have a higher possibility of a hamstring pull.