Stretches for Tight Hamstrings

Effective Stretches for Tight Hamstrings

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Tight hamstrings are a common complaint among runners. They can be painful and sometimes prevent you from running. You may also suffer from lower back pain if your hamstrings are very tight.

If you're dealing from tight hamstrings, here are some effective stretches that can help get you some relief. I also highly recommend using a foam roller or other massage tool on a regular basis to help loosen up your hamstrings. Even just five minutes of massage each day can make a huge difference.

Towel Stretch

Reclined Big Toe Yoga Pose
Siri Stafford

This hamstring stretch is a good one to do after a workout at the gym, when you have a towel handy.

1. Start by lying on your back with your legs extended out in front of you.

2. Take a towel, exercise rope, or yoga band and wrap it around the bottom of the mid right foot.

3. While holding onto the towel and keeping your leg straight, raise your right leg towards your chest. Try to get your leg to a 90-degree angle.

4. Pull on the towel until you feel the stretch.

5. Try to keep your shoulders and hips flat on the ground and try not to over-arch your back.

6. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and slowly lower your right leg to the ground. Switch legs and stretch the other side for 30 seconds.

Seated Hamstring Stretch

seated hamstring stretch
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I like this hamstring stretch because I also get a nice stretch in my lower back. Here's how to do a seated hamstring stretch:

1. Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you.

2. Bring your left foot in toward your right knee. Position it at a 45-degree angle.

3. Keep your back straight as you lean forwards through your hips.

4. Reach toward your right foot and try to touch the bottom of your foot, or your toes. If you can't reach your foot, just lean forward until you feel a good stretch.

5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then do the same thing with the other leg.

Standing Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring Stretch for Runners
Siri Stafford

This standing hamstring stretch is a good one for when you're running on a road or path and you don't have a towel and can't easily sit down on the ground.

1. Stand with your legs crossed and the outsides of your feet together.

2. Slowly bend over with your rear knee straight.

3. Reach toward your feet or bring your torso toward your legs.

4. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

5. Release, switch legs, and stretch the other leg.

Lying Down Hamstring Stretch

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This hamstring stretch feels great, and it's a good one to do if bending over bothers your back.  Here's how to do it:

1. Lie on your back with your legs extended and your back straight. Make sure your lower back is on the floor and your hips are level.

2. Bend your left knee and keep your left foot on the floor.

3. Bring your right leg toward you, bending your knee as you lift up your leg.

4. Slowly straighten your right leg, grabbing the back of your leg with both hands.

5. Gently pull your right leg towards you while keeping your hips on the floor.

6. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on your left side.

If straightening your leg is too difficult, you can also do this stretch with a bent knee.

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