6 Easy Hamstring Stretches to Do at Home

Loosen tight hamstring muscles with these simple moves

Tight hamstrings are a common problem that can be caused by tight hip flexors or glutes, overuse during intense activities like soccer, and even sitting too much. If you have tight hamstrings, you may feel stiffness, aching, or burning in the back of the thigh. Try these hamstring stretching exercises to help improve overall hamstring flexibility and relieve or prevent tight hamstrings.


Watch Now: 6 Simple Stretches For Tight Hamstrings

Benefits of Hamstring Stretches

The hamstring muscle group is located at the back of the thigh and is responsible for bending or flexing the knee. Because the hamstrings also cross the hip joint in the back of the thigh, they help the gluteal (butt) muscles extend the leg during activities like running and walking.

While the effectiveness of stretching is sometimes debated, stretching your hamstrings improve flexibility, may prevent injury, and help treat low back pain. Stretching also may improve overall mobility, which can help with athletic performance and activities of daily living, as well as decrease delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) when performed after intense activity.

It is also important to note that chronically contracted hamstrings pull on the pelvis and flatten the normal arch of your lower back. When this happens, the muscles become overstretched and weakened resulting in lower back pain. But, research has demonstrated that properly stretching your hamstrings helps to ease and prevent back pain.

A general hamstring flexibility program can improve the way your hamstrings move. Before starting this, or any other exercise program, check in with a healthcare professional or consult a physical therapist to ensure that the exercise is safe and effective for you.

Static vs. Dynamic Stretches

The timing of your flexibility routine determines whether you should perform static or dynamic stretches. Static stretches, in which you hold a position for several seconds, are best performed after a workout, when the muscles are warm.

Dynamic stretches involve controlled movements to help warm the body and prepare muscles for more vigorous movement. These are best performed before a workout.

The instructions below are for static stretches. To make them dynamic, take 60 to 90 seconds to repeatedly move in and out of each posture with steady, controlled movement. If you feel any pain or abnormal sensations in your hip, thigh, or lower leg, stop and contact a healthcare provider.


Simple Hamstring Stretch

simple hamstring stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Start with this simple hamstring stretch. If you have low back pain or sciatica, this exercise may place a strain on your back, so proceed with caution.

  1. Sit on the floor with both legs out straight.
  2. Extend your arms and reach forward by bending at the waist as far as possible while keeping your knees straight.
  3. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
  4. Relax back into the starting position.
  5. Repeat three times.

Stretch until you feel a gentle pull in the back of your thighs. If you feel any excessive pain, you should stop the exercise.


Hurdler Hamstring Stretch

Hurdler Hamstring Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The hurdler hamstring stretch is a simple exercise that can be done right on the floor.

  1. Sit on the floor with one leg out straight.
  2. Bend the other leg at the knee and position the sole of that foot against your opposite inner thigh.
  3. Extend your arms and reach forward over the straight leg by bending at the waist as far as possible.
  4. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  5. Relax.
  6. Repeat with the other leg.

Standing Hamstring Stretch (Both Legs)

Standing Hamstring Stretch (Both Legs at Once)

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The next hamstring stretch is done in the standing position and stretches both legs at once.

  1. Stand and cross your right foot in front of your left.
  2. Slowly lower your forehead to your right knee by bending at the waist.
  3. Keep both knees straight.
  4. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
  5. Relax.
  6. Repeat on the other side by crossing your left foot in front of your right.

Standing Hamstring Stretch (One Leg)

Standing Hamstring Stretch (One Leg at a Time)

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The one-legged standing hamstring stretch is one of the easiest stretches. Do it anywhere—home, office, or outdoors.

  1. Stand up straight with one heel resting on a small stack of books, a yoga block, or a stool. If you are outside, you can use the curb, but be sure to watch for cars.
  2. Keep your knee straight.
  3. Reach both arms up so your arms are about even with your ears. Reaching your arms up, as opposed to reaching down toward your foot, will keep your back straight.
  4. Bend forward slightly from your hips. Feel the stretch in your hamstring behind your thigh.
  5. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat three times.
  6. Repeat with the other leg.

Towel Hamstring Stretch

The Towel Hamstring Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Most folks have towels to perform towel stretches, although you can use a strap or belt instead.

  1. Lie on the floor on your back.
  2. Loop a long bath towel around your toes and hold the ends of the towel in both hands.
  3. Slowly pull on the towel to lift your straight leg up. Be sure to keep your knee straight. The leg without the towel should remain flat on the ground.
  4. Bring your leg up until a stretch is felt behind your thigh. You may also feel a stretch in your calf. This is normal.
  5. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, and then relax.
  6. Repeat three to five times on each leg.

Remember that the towel hamstring stretch should feel good as you are doing the exercise; if it causes pain, stop immediately and try something else.


Standing Forward Bend

Standing forward bend

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The standing forward bend is an easy hamstring stretch that allows gravity to help deepen the stretch. If your low back is sore, proceed with caution or choose a different stretch.

  1. Stand up straight with your arms overhead.
  2. Fold forward from the hips, reaching your hands toward the floor. Your hips should be stacked over your ankles. Touching your toes is not the goal of this stretch. Only go as far as you can without overly bending your knees (they can be ever-so-slightly bent, but don't bend them to try to go lower, because your hamstrings will not get the stretch).
  3. Notice your quadriceps, the muscles at the front of your thighs. Engage your quads to deepen the stretch of the hamstring.
  4. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
  5. Bring your upper body back to a standing position.

A Word From Verywell

Stretching your hamstrings can help improve your mobility and flexibility as well as prevent and treat back pain. If you have tried stretching your hamstrings and are still struggling with tightness or pain, contact a healthcare provider. They can evaluate your symptoms and offer a treatment plan. They also may refer you to a physical therapist who can show you ways to improve your hamstring flexibility.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Behm DG, Blazevich AJ, Kay AD, Mchugh M. Acute effects of muscle stretching on physical performance, range of motion, and injury incidence in healthy active individuals: a systematic review. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016;41(1):1-11. doi:10.1139/apnm-2015-0235.

  2. Reis FJJ, Macedo AR. Influence of hamstring tightness in pelvic, lumbar and trunk range of motion in low back pain and asymptomatic volunteers during forward bendingAsian Spine J. 2015;9(4):535-540. doi:10.4184/asj.2015.9.4.535

Additional Reading

By Brett Sears, PT
Brett Sears, PT, MDT, is a physical therapist with over 15 years of experience in orthopedic and hospital-based therapy.