5 Simple Stretches for Hamstrings

A hamstring injury can be caused by many reasons including tight, weak hamstring muscles or hamstring pulls or strains. This stretching program can help reduce hamstring pain and soreness, and prevent hamstring pulls.

Seated Hamstring Stretch

woman doing seated hamstring stretch

Photo: Ben Goldstein / Model: Ana Alarcon

The hamstrings need to be strong and loose to endure the demands of running and kicking. This stretch can help maintain length in the hamstrings.

  • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you with knees straight.
  • In a slow, steady movement, lean forward at the hips, keep your knees straight and slide your hands up your legs to your feet.
  • Extend as far as you can, and curl your feet toward you to increase the stretch.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, release and repeat two to three times.

Check your hamstring flexibility with the ​sit and reach test.

Standing Hamstring Stretch

woman standing stretching hamstrings

Photo: Ben Goldstein / Model: Ana Alarcon

This stretch is a simple and effective stretch for athletes who engage in any running, sprinting and field sports.

  • Extend one leg in front of you with the forward foot flexed toward you.
  • Bend the knee of the hindfoot and lean back slightly
  • Keep your pelvis tilted forward, and slowly bend down to reach the toes of the forward foot.
  • You should feel the stretch up the back of your extended leg (all the way up your calf and thigh).
  • Extend as far as you can, and pull your toes toward you to increase the stretch.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, release and repeat two to three times.

Advanced Standing Hamstring Stretch

woman doing advanced hamstring stretch

Photo: Ben Goldstein / Model: Ana Alarcon

This more advanced hamstring stretch stretches the hamstrings, as well as the calves, shoulders and the low back and hips. Here's how to do it correctly.

  • Begin standing up straight with shoulders relaxed and back.
  • Reach your arms behind your back and interlace your fingers.
  • Lift your shoulders up toward your ears and lift your hands away from your back.
  • Slowly bend forward at the waist, keeping your back flat, not rounded.
  • Continue bending forward and lift your hand overhead as far forward as comfortable.
  • At a full stretch, you will feel tension in your hamstrings and in your shoulders.
  • Hold for 10-20 seconds and release.
  • Repeat 2-3 times.

Partner Stretch for a Hamstring Injury

Woman helping an athlete stretch his leg
Darren England / Getty Images

Here is a great way to stretch your hamstrings if you have a willing partner.

  • Begin by laying down on the ground.
  • Have your partner slowly lift one leg up, keeping your knee straight.
  • The partner should apply gentle pressure to the back of your heel to slowly stretch the hamstrings until you feel a stretch.
  • Don't overstretch! Communicate with your partner to avoid overstretching.
  • They should hold your leg in the maximal stretched position for about 20 and slowly release the tension.
  • Repeat 2-3 times on leg each.

Foam Roller Exercise for a Hamstring Injury

foam roller for calves and hamstings
miljko/Getty Images

Using a foam roller to perform self-massage and myofascial release not only stretches muscles and tendons but it also breaks down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue. This particular use of the roller targets the muscles and soft tissues of the lower leg.

How to Use a Foam Roller

To work your calves and hamstrings with a foam roller start by sitting on the roller with the soft, meaty part of your buttock directly on top of the roller. Begin slowly rolling back and forth and slightly side to side to release any tight sports in the muscle.

Slowly roll down your leg all the way to the calves, and then roll slowly back. Change your position from side to side to work the entire muscle. Slowly roll from the buttock down to the knee pausing on any tight or sore spots.

Increase or decrease pressure by using one or both legs at a time. Roll with your feet turned in and out to cover the entire muscle group.