How can I keep my hamstrings from tightening up after softball?

STRETCH!!  Softball is a great sport, especially slo-pitch softball!  The joy of playing with family and friends is great and the level of competition is present but hopefully not too competitive.  Be sure to warm-up prior to activities and to cool down following.  Many individuals show up to the game just in time for the first pitch and then head home afterwards too relaxed and more often than not, watch TV.  While watching TV, complete a stretch or two.  Hamstring stretches are easy and here are two to try. 

First, while standing, take one foot slight forward; keep that leg straight while leaning back on your other leg bending that knee.  To advance this stretch, take the foot that is forward and lift up on your heel.  This should give you a nice stretch in the back of the leg that is in front.  Another stretch requires assistance from a band, a piece of rope, or something that can be used to wrap around the bottom of your foot.  Take the object you are using, wrap it around the bottom of your foot, between the ball of your foot and your heel, lay on your back and pull that foot up in the air.  Try to keep your knee straight and keep your other leg slight bent or straight.  Be sure not to pull too hard that your hips lift off the ground.  These two stretches are some of many but easy to complete and can be done in the comfort of your home.

The key to keeping your hamstrings from tightening up after softball is to stretch on a regular basis.  As long as you do not have any condition such as osteoporosis, osteopenia or other condition that would contraindicate its use, a foam roller can be a very important tool when it comes to flexibility. (see video for an example of one area being foam rolled)

Stretching should be performed at least once daily, preferably more.  Self-Myofacial Release using a foam roller will help break up knots/adhesions in muscles.  Follow the SMR with static stretching (stretch and hold).  Prior to a game, you will want to perform some dynamic stretches such as hip swings, medicine ball rotations and arm swings.  To perform the medicine ball rotations, hold the medicine ball out in front of you at shoulder level.  Rotate in one direction as far around as possible pivoting your opposing foot.  Repeat on the opposite side.  Perform 10 to 20 repetitions per side.  Be sure to perform static stretches after the game.

The muscles to stretch should include but not limited to your lats, gluteous muscles, hamstrings, quads, inner & outer thighs as well as your calf muscles.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.