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Hamstring Stretches & Flexibility Exercises

Hamstring stretching videos and photos to improve your hamstring flexibility and relieve tight hamstring muscles.

by Brad Walker | First Published June 19, 2009 | Updated August 7, 2018

Hamstring stretches are important for the flexibility and range of motion of the hip and hamstring muscles. Good hamstring flexibility allows for unrestricted, pain free movement of the hip and upper leg.

Sports that benefit from the hamstring stretches below include: Basketball and Netball; Cycling; Hiking, Backpacking, Mountaineering and Orienteering. Ice Hockey and Field Hockey; Ice Skating, Roller Skating and Inline Skating; Martial Arts; Running, Track and Cross Country. And running sports like Football, Soccer, Gridiron and Rugby; Snow Skiing and Water Skiing; Surfing; Walking and Race Walking; Wrestling.

Hamstring Muscles being Stretched

During the following hamstring stretching photos and videos there are a number of muscles within the hip and upper leg that are stretched. Below is a comprehensive list of the anatomical muscle names involved in the following hamstring stretches.

  • Semimembranosus
  • Semitendinosis
  • Biceps Femoris
  • Gastrocnemius
  • Gluteus Maximus

Hamstring Stretching Guidelines

As with most activities there are rules and guidelines to ensure that they are safe. Stretching is no exception. Stretching can be extremely dangerous and harmful if done incorrectly. It is vitally important that the following guidelines be adhered to, both for safety and for maximizing the potential benefits of stretching.

  • Breathe. Don’t hold your breath. Holding your breath can raise your blood pressure, if you do suffer from high blood pressure. In any event, it makes you more tense. The deeper you breathe, the more relaxed you are, the deeper and longer you will be able to stretch.
  • Never force a stretch beyond the point of mild discomfort. Stretching tight muscles will be uncomfortable, but you should never feel any sharp or sudden pain. If you do, stop immediately; you are pushing yourself too far.
  • Be consistent. Stretching for a few minutes each day will gradually build flexibility and range of motion. This is far preferable to stretching only once a week for a longer time.
  • Wear loose comfortable clothing. It’s obviously very difficult to stretch if your clothes are tight and restrict movement.

Sample Hamstring Stretches

Kneeling Hamstring Stretch

Kneeling Hamstring Stretch: Kneel down on one knee and place your other leg straight out in front with your heel on the ground. Keep your back straight. Make sure your toes are pointing straight up and gently reach towards your toes with one hand. Use your other arm for balance. Hold this stretch for about 20 to 30 seconds and repeat at least 2 to 3 times.

Standing Leg-up Hamstring Stretch

Standing Leg-up Hamstring Stretch: Stand with one foot raised onto a chair, fence railing or similar object. Keep your raised leg slightly bent, with your toes on the edge of the chair. Let your heel drop off the edge of the chair. Keep your back straight and gently move your chest towards your raised leg. As above, hold this stretch for about 20 to 30 seconds and repeat at least 2 to 3 times.

Sample Hamstring Stretching Videos

Kneeling Hamstring Stretch (1:24) Kneel on one knee and place your other leg straight forward with your heel on the ground. Keep your back straight and point your toes towards your body. Reach towards your toes with one hand. It’s not important to be able to touch your toes. Concentrate on keeping your back straight and your toes pointing up. Hold the stretch position for about 20 to 30 seconds and then repeat with the opposite leg.

Sitting Single Leg Hamstring Stretch (1:24) Sit with one leg straight out in front and toes pointing upwards. Bring your other foot towards your knee. Let your head fall forward and reach towards your toes with both hands. It’s important to keep your toes pointing straight upwards. Letting your toes fall to one side will cause this stretch to put uneven tension on the hamstring muscles. Over an extended period of time, this could lead to a muscle imbalance. Hold the stretch position for about 20 to 30 seconds and then repeat with the opposite leg.

Partner Assisted Hamstring Stretch (0:53) Lie on your back and keep both legs straight. Have a partner raise one of your legs off the ground and as far back as is comfortable. Make sure your toes are pointing directly backwards. Choose your stretching partner carefully. They are responsible for your safety while performing this stretch, so make sure you communicate clearly with them at all times. Hold the stretch position for about 20 to 30 seconds and then repeat with the opposite leg.

Bent Knee Hamstring Stretch (1:28) Lie on your back and bend one leg. Pull the other knee towards your chest, then slowly and gently straighten your raised leg. Keep your upper leg (thigh) relatively still, and regulate the intensity of this stretch by straightening your knee. Hold the stretch position for about 20 to 30 seconds and then repeat with the opposite leg.

The Stretching Handbook, DVD & CD-ROMWhile the recommendations on this page are a good starting point, you'll get a lot more benefit when you include a wider variety of stretches.

To do away with stiff, tight muscles and joints, and become loose, limber and pain free, grab a copy of the Ultimate Stretching Video & Book Guide.

In no time you'll... Improve your freedom of movement and full-body mobility. Get rid of those annoying aches, pains and injuries. And take your flexibility (and ease of movement) to the next level.

You'll get 135 clear photographs and 44 video demonstrations of unique stretches for all the major muscle groups in your body. Plus, the DVD includes 3 customized sets of stretches (8 minutes each) for the Upper Body; the Lower Body; and the Neck, Back & Core. And the Handbook will show you, step-by-step, how to perform each stretch correctly and safely.

Get back to the activities you love. Whether it’s enjoying your favorite sport, or walking the dog, or playing with the grand kids. Imagine getting out of bed in the morning with a spring in your step. Or being able to work in the garden or play your favorite sport without “paying-for-it” the next day.

Click here for my Stretching Video & Book Guide!

Brad Walker - AKA The Stretch CoachAbout the Author: Brad is often referred to as the "Stretch Coach" and has even been called the Stretching Guru. Magazines such as Runners World, Bicycling, Triathlete, Swimming & Fitness, and Triathlon Sports have all featured his work. Amazon has listed his books on five Best-Seller lists. Google cites over 100,000 references to him and his work on the internet. And satisfied customers from 122 countries have sent 100's of testimonials. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.

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