Five Simple Stretches for Tight Hamstrings

If your hamstrings feel tight, stretching might be the solution. Here are some simple stretches for tight hamstrings that will help you to relax your muscles and eliminate discomfort.
Five Simple Stretches for Tight Hamstrings

Last update: 30 March, 2019

Tight hamstrings are often the result of tough exercise routines. Simple stretches for tight hamstrings can help to release tension, prevent cramping, and prevent muscle stiffness.

The hamstrings are a group of muscles that cover the backs of your thighs. They include three muscles: semimembranosus, semitendinosus, and biceps femoris. Further, they extend from your hip to your knee joint.

What’s more, these muscles perform various functions in your body. For example, they help you to stand up and propel your body when jumping or running. As such, keeping them healthy and strong is important to ensure your well-being. We’ll go over some stretches for tight hamstrings in more detail below.

Simple stretches for tight hamstrings

Having tight hamstrings is common after doing squats, running long distances, and using the leg press, among other challenging activities. That’s why it’s important to stretch them to prevent injuries or cramps and, in turn, increase blood flow and release tension.

To give you a helping hand, we’ll share five stretches for tight hamstrings that are quick and easy to do. Be sure to give them a try!

Read more about: Benefits of Stretching

1. Toe touches

There are two ways of doing this exercise: standing or sitting on the floor. If you’re not a very flexible person, you should start sitting down. Doing so will let your muscles relax more easily.

If you’re more flexible and have better control over your body, then you can do it standing up. This way, you’ll also work on your balance.

  • Standing: with your back straight, feet apart and knees straight, lean forward while keeping your breath steady. Try to touch the tips of your toes; then, put the palms of your hands on the ground. If you can’t do it, lean as far as you can and hold the posture for several seconds.
Man and woman stretching outside stretches for tight hamstrings
  • Sitting: firstly, sit on a mat with your legs together and stretched out in front of you. Then, lean forward without bending your back and bring your hands as close as you can to your feet. Hold this position for 20 seconds and repeat four times.
Man and woman stretching in grass

2. Heel to the ground

  • Firstly, stand up straight and extend your right leg forward. Then, flex your foot, leaving only your heel on the floor.
  • Bend your left knee slightly, until you feel some tension in your right leg.
Woman stretching on waterfront stretches for tight hamstrings
  • Then, lean forward and count to 10.
  • Finally, return to the starting position and repeat on the other leg.

3. Apanasana

Apanasana is a word from Sanskrit. ‘”Apana” means a downward-moving life force, and “asana” means pose or posture.

Apanasana is a yoga pose that helps move toxins down and out of the body. It’s also great to stretch and oxygenate tight hamstrings. Just follow these steps:

  • Firstly, on a mat, lie on your back with your legs extended and arms at your sides.
  • Then, pull your right knee into your chest and hold it with your hands as close to your body as possible.
  • Take a deep breath and hold this pose for 15 seconds.
  • Then, return to the starting position and repeat with the left leg.
  • Once you’ve stretched both legs (one at a time), bring both knees to your chest and hold them with your hands. Hold this pose for 30 seconds.
People on mats stretching

4. Half splits pose

Half splits pose or Ardha Hanumanasana is another yoga position that stretches your hamstrings, tendons, knees, and calves. “Ardha” means half, and “asana” means pose/posture. As such, it’s a pose that prepares you for Hanumanasana.

To do a half splits pose, follow these steps:

  • Firstly, on a mat, kneel on the floor and extend one leg forward, flexing your foot towards the ceiling.
  • Remember to keep your hips and shoulders aligned toward the front.
  • Then, with your hands on the ground, lean your torso forward while pushing your hips back.
  • Your back should be straight with your leg extended; you should never bend your knee.
  • Hold the pose for 30 seconds, while you inhale and exhale quietly. Then, repeat with the other leg.
Ardha hanumanasana stretches for tight hamstrings

Stretches for tight hamstrings: conclusion

Finally, having tight hamstrings can be very annoying when working out. It can even make simple movements like walking or sitting difficult. As such, try to perform these stretches to eliminate any muscle tension and stiffness.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Bandy, W. D., Irion, J. M., & Briggler, M. (1997). The effect of time and frequency of static stretching on flexibility of the hamstring muscles. Physical Therapy77(10), 1090–1096.
  • Worrell, T. W., Smith, T. L., & Winegardner, J. (1994). Effect of Hamstring Stretching on Hamstring Muscle Performance. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy20(3), 154–159.
  • Decoster, L. C., Cleland, J., & Altieri, C. (2005). The Effects of Hamstring Stretching on Range of Motion: A Systematic Literature Review. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy35(6), 377–387.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.