Your hamstrings are comprised of 3 large muscles in the back of your thighs. These muscles start at the pelvis and follow your femur down to the back of the knee, supporting the hip and knee joints. If the backs of your legs feel tight, you probably have tight hamstrings. Tight hamstrings are very common and doing hamstring stretches can help you to become more limber.
Sitting at a desk or in a car tightens your hamstrings, so a hamstring stretching routine relieves pain from tight muscles. Having tight hamstrings can contribute to back pain, hip pain and knee pain. Tight hamstrings can also increase your susceptibility to hamstring injury.
If you are an athlete with tight hamstrings, you will notice improvement in your performance when you begin to gain flexibility in your hamstrings. There are some easy exercises to increase your hamstring length. Do them on waking and at night in front of the evening news.
Sitting Hamstring Stretch or Forward Bend
- Sit on the floor with both legs out straight.
- Bending at the waist, slowly reach down to your feet and touch your toes. Extending your arms, reach forward by bending at the waist as far as possible while keeping your knees straight.
- Make sure you are not bouncing or straining to touch your toes. Hold this position for 20 seconds.
- Try to keep your back flat, not rounded and breathe. Relax and repeat.
Alternate Sitting Hamstring Stretch or Modified Forward Bend
- Sit on the floor with one leg out straight.
- Bend the other leg at the knee and position the sole of that foot against your opposite inner thigh.
- Extend your arms and reach forward over the one straight leg by bending at the waist as far as possible.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds.
- Relax and repeat with the other leg.
Standing Wall Stretch
- Stand one foot from a wall and place your hands on the wall at shoulder height, shoulder-width apart.
- Take a step back with one leg while pushing into the wall.
- Keep your back straight and press your heels into the floor.
- Hold for 10 seconds.
- Step forward and repeat with the other leg.
Tight hamstrings that can cause lower back problems and lead to pulled muscles. Tight hamstrings also limit your range of motion, which can affect running stride, form and speed.
Wall Hamstring Stretch
This stretch puts you in a different position to stretch not only your hamstrings but also the muscles of the calf. Try doing some ankle rotations in this position to stretch and strengthen your ankles. You can also push the soles of your feet against the wall for a stretch in your shins if you’re suffering from shin splints.
Lying Hamstring Stretch
This keeps the spine neutral whereas basic toe touches (forward bends) do not, thereby reducing risk of low back pain.
Lie on your back with your legs extended and your back straight. Keep your hips level and your lower back down on the floor. Bend your right knee towards your chest, keeping your left leg extended on the floor.
Slowly straighten your right knee, grabbing the back of your leg with both hands. Pull your leg towards your gently while keeping both hips on the floor. Breathe deeply and hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side. To reduce the intensity of this stretch, bend the knee of the stretching leg.