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.
- Biceps Femoris
- 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: 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: 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.
While the recommendations on this page are a good place to start, you'll get a lot more benefit when you include these important stretching exercises in your training and workouts.
Discover how to stretch properly and improve your flexibility quickly and safely with my free Stretching Tips eBook, 1 hour MP3 Audio and my Top 10 Stretch Routines.
Get stretching tips and exercises to improve your flexibility so you can train harder, race faster, recover quicker, move better and get rid of stiff, tight muscles and joints. You'll...
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- Get rid of those annoying aches, pains and injuries; and
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Go ahead and check out my free Stretching Tips eBook, MP3 Audio and Top 10 Stretch Routines here.
About the Author: Brad Walker 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 (author page) 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 1,000's of verified customer reviews. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.
Disclaimer: The health and fitness information presented on this website is intended as an educational resource and is not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice. Please consult your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the exercises described on this website, particularly if you are pregnant, elderly or have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain.