Tight hamstrings aren’t fun. You might notice them when you go to stand up after a long period of time. Or you might feel them pull when you bend over to pick something up off the ground. In extreme cases, it might also make walking painful.
So whether you overdid it at the gym yesterday or you’ve always suffered from tight hamstrings, we’ve got the solution for you. But first, what are the hamstrings?
The Hamstring Muscles
The hamstrings muscles are three muscles that make up the back of your thigh. These muscles include the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. You use these muscles to bend your knee and to bring your thigh toward the back of your body. In turn, this means you use them to walk, run, jump, and stop or start any of these movements.
However, tight hamstring muscles are susceptible to increased injury, especially because we use them all the time. So, how can you prevent an injury from happening? And how can you loosen up those tight hamstrings?
Exercises for Tight Hamstrings
Fit these exercises in throughout your day or at the end of your workout when your muscles are nice and warmed up! This routine shouldn’t take longer than about 10 minutes.
Are you ready? Let’s prevent injuries before they happen.
Exercise #1: The Seated Hamstring Stretch
Let’s start with the most basic of hamstring stretches. This one anyone can do. It’s frequently prescribed during rehabilitation from a lower body or back injury.
- Begin sitting in a chair.
- Scoot close to the edge, but make sure you aren’t going to fall off the chair here.
- Extend on leg straight and plant your heel on the ground.
- Bend forward at the waist, keeping your back straight.
- Reach toward your extended leg and hold. You should feel a stretch down the back of your straight leg’s thigh.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds.
- Repeat for your opposite side and do this about 2-3 times.
Exercise #2: Lying Down Hamstring Stretch
If you found the chair stretch didn’t quite cut it, try this one on for size.
- Lie face-up on a comfortable surface.
- Bend your left leg and plant your foot on the ground.
- Straighten your right leg and bring it as close to your body as you can.
- Use a strap or your hands to pull your leg toward you.
- Hold here for 20-30 seconds, and repeat 2-3 times. Make sure to do the other side as well.
Exercise #3: Downward Dog
This isn’t just for yogis. It’s also great for the average person looking to stretch out and elongate their posterior chain (aka the back of your legs, your back, and shoulders).
- Begin on all-fours.
- Slowly straighten your legs and plant your heels back. Extend your arms and bring your tailbone high to the sky.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds.
- During this time, you can walk it out by alternating between pressing one heel back then the other. Play with it and see what feels best for you.
Exercise #4: Stand Forward Fold
Again, this one isn’t just for yogis or super flexible individuals. In fact, it can feel pretty good when the whole backside of your body feels tight and sore. Try it out.
- Stand tall and take a deep breath.
- Fold forward at the hips.
- Allow your head and arms to hang. Completely relax here.
- Hang out here as long as you need. Try to go for 30 seconds to a minute. It should feel good.
Exercise #5: Seated Half Forward Fold
Finish this stretch session off with an isolated hamstring stretch.
- Sit on a comfortable surface.
- Extend your right leg out and bend your leg, bringing your left foot to rest on your opposite inner thigh.
- Gently bend forward at the hips reaching for your right foot.
- Hold here for 20-30 seconds.
- Repeat on the opposite side and perform 2-3 reps per side.
Say Goodbye to Your Tight Hamstrings!
You may have some relief right away. But it may take time to improve the mobility and flexibility of your hamstrings entirely. Aim to do this almost daily (if you can) to improve your overall body function and to decrease aches and pains.
Remember, preventing injuries before they happen is better than dealing with them as they happen. Take care of your body and it will take care of you. That way, you can have the life you want.