Tight hamstrings increase your risk of injuries and posture and back problems. Stretching can help keep your hamstrings flexible, which is important because you engage them every time you extend your leg backward and when you bend your knee toward your buttocks. If you're active in sports, such as cycling or running, stretching your hamstrings is especially essential, because it can help improve your performance. For optimal benefits and injury prevention, learn how to safely stretch the back of your thighs.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Sit on the floor, straighten your legs in front of you and spread them wider than shoulder-width apart to form a V-shape.
Flex your feet and contract your quadriceps at the front of your upper legs to help keep your knees straight.
Bend forward at your waist and reach with both hands toward the toes of your right foot. Try to lengthen your torso while lowering it toward your leg until you feel a slight tension in your right hamstring.
Hold the stretch for 30 seconds before stretching your other leg. Repeat the stretch three times.
Cross Leg Hamstring Stretch
Stand upright, point your toes forward and cross your left leg over your right leg so the outsides of your feet touch each other.
Engage your quadriceps at the front of your right thigh to help keep your right knee straight.
Bend over at your waist and reach your hands toward your toes. Bring your torso as close as you comfortably can toward your legs.
Maintain the stretch for 30 seconds before crossing your right leg over your left leg and repeating the stretch. Stretch each leg three times.
Single Leg Hamstring Stretch
Stand upright, take a step forward with your right foot and turn the toes of your left foot outward.
Bend your left knee and straighten your right knee.
Place your left hand on your left knee for support and bend forward at your waist until you feel a stretch in the back of your right thigh. Keep your back straight and right foot flat on the floor as you stretch.
Hold the tension for about 30 seconds before switching your legs. Repeat the stretch three times.
- Stretch your hamstrings about two or three times per week to maintain your flexibility.
- Avoid bouncing when stretching your hamstrings and never stretch to the point of pain.
- Avoid stretching when your muscles are cold -- stretch after exercising or after a 10-minute jog, when your muscles are warm.