5 Simple Stretches To Ease Hamstring Pain and Injury

Seated Hamstring Stretch

A woman reaches to her side, stretching her hamstring and leg while sitting on the gym floor
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A hamstring injury can be caused by many reasons including tight, weak hamstring muscles or hamstring pulls or strains. This stretching program can help reduce hamstring pain and soreness, and prevent hamstring pulls.

How to Do the Seated Hamstring Stretch

The hamstrings need to be strong and loose to endure the demands of running and kicking. This stretch can help maintain length in the hamstrings.

  • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you with knees straight.
  • In a slow, steady movement, lean forward at the hips, keep you knees straight and slide your hands up your legs to your feet.
  • Extend as far as you can, and curl your feet toward you to increase the stretch.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, release and repeat two to three times.

Check your hamstring flexibility with the Sit & Reach Test.

Standing Hamstring Stretch

Standing Hamstring Stretch
Standing Hamstring Stretch. A.D.A.M

How to Do the Standing Hamstring Stretch

  • Extend one leg in front of you with the foot flexed.
  • Bend your other knee and lean back slightly.
  • Your pelvis should be tilted forward.
  • Keep your upper body upright.
  • You should feel the stretch up the back of your extended leg (all the way up your calf and thigh).
  • Extend as far as you can, and curl your feet toward you to increase the stretch.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, release and repeat two to three times.

Advanced Standing Hamstring Stretch

Advanced Standing Hamstring Stretch
Professional golfer Natalie Gulbis Stretches during a match. David Cannon / Getty Images

This more advanced hamstring stretch, stretches the hamstrings, calves and shoulders. Here's how to do it correctly.

How to Do the Advanced Standing Hamstring Stretch

  • Begin standing up straight with shoulders relaxed and back.
  • Reach your arms behind your back and interlace your fingers.
  • Lift your shoulders up toward your ears and lift your hands away from your back.
  • Slowly bend forward at the waist, keeping your back flat, not rounded.
  • Continue bending forward and lift your hand over head as far forward as comfortable.
  • At a full stretch you will feel tension in your hamstrings and in your shoulders.
  • Hold for 10-20 seconds and release.
  • Repeat 2-3 times.

Partner Stretch for a Hamstring Injury

Partner Hamstring Stretch
Partner Hamstring Stretch. Photo (c) Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

Here is a great way to stretch your hamstrings if you have a willing partner.

How to Do the Partner Hamstring Stretch

  • Begin by laying down on the ground.
  • Have your partner slowly lift one leg up, keeping your knee straight.
  • The partner should apply gentle pressure to the back of your heel to slowly stretch the hamstrings until you feel a stretch.
  • Don't overstretch! Communicate with your partner to avoid overstretching.
  • They should hold your leg in the maximal stretched position for about 20 and slowly release the tension.
  • Repeat 2-3 times on leg each.

Foam Roller Exercise for a Hamstring Injury

Foam Roller Exercise - Hamstrings. Photo � E. Quinn

Using a foam roller to perform self massage and myofascial release not only stretches muscles and tendons but it also breaks down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue. This particular use of the roller targets the muscles and soft tissues of the lower leg.

How to Use a Foam Roller on the Hamstrings

To work your hamstrings with a foam roller start by sitting on the roller with the soft, meaty part of your buttock directly on top of the roller. Begin slowly rolling back and forth and slightly side to side to release any tight sports in the muscle.

Slowly roll down your leg toward your knee and work the hamstrings in the same way. (picture above). Change your position from side to side to work the entire muscle. Slowly roll from the buttock down to the knee pausing on any tight or sore spots.

Increase or decrease pressure by using one or both legs at a time. Roll with your feet turned in and out to cover the entire muscle group.

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