Learn How to Stretch Tight Hamstrings

Learn How to Stretch Tight Hamstrings

Proper hamstring care includes passive and active stretches, foam rolling, and strengthening movements. Here are a few tips on how to stretch hamstrings safely and effectively.

Learn why some movements should only be performed during cool-down or between workouts here.

Seated Forward Fold

Let gravity do some of the work with this static hamstring stretch performed after or between workouts.

Seated Forward Fold | how to stretch hamstrings

  • Sit on the ground with both legs extended in front of you.
  • Keeping your back flat, abs engaged, and legs straight, reach for your toes until you feel a stretch.
  • You may not be able to touch your toes and that’s OK. This stretch should feel challenging, but never painful.


Single Leg Extension

This passive stretch uses a strap to achieve a full hamstring extension. Like the seated forward fold, it should be reserved for post- and between-workout use.

Lying Single Leg Extension | how to stretch hamstrings

  • Lie with your back flat on the ground and both legs extended straight.
  • Bend your right knee, placing a resistance band around the arch of your right foot.
  • Straighten your leg up toward the ceiling, holding the other end of the band in both hands.
  • Use the band to gently pull your leg toward your head while keeping your leg straight. Only go as far as you can without discomfort. To enhance the stretch, squeeze your quadricep and flex your toes back.
  • Repeat on your left side.


Front and Back Leg Swings

Challenge your balance and give your hamstring a dynamic stretch with this move that’s good before and after a workout. Or any time, really.

Leg Swing | how to stretch hamstrings

  • Stand on your left foot and swing your right leg forward and backward. Your left arm should move in tandem with your right leg, but hold onto a stable surface for balance if necessary.
  • Use your natural range of motion, don’t try to force your leg to go higher than it’s able.
  • Do all of your reps, switch legs, and repeat.


High Kick With Toe Touch

Get a slightly deeper hamstring stretch with this kick variation that’s also good any time.

High Kick With Toe Touch | how to stretch hamstrings

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and raise your arms out to your sides so that your body forms a “T.” This is the starting position.
  • Keep your right leg straight as you swing it up and touch your toes with your left hand.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg and right hand.
  • Continue alternating sides.


Knee Lift to Walking Lunge

Another dynamic stretch applicable pre- and post-workout, this movement will also help promote strength in your hamstrings.

knee lift walking lunge | how to stretch hamstrings

This lunge variation will strengthen your hamstrings while also warming them up.

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Raise your right knee as high as you can and step forward, lowering your body into a lunge position (front knee bent 90 degrees, rear knee hovering an inch or two above the floor).
  • Push off with your left foot and bring it forward to return to a standing position.
  • Now raise your left knee and step forward into a lunge position.
  • Continue alternating legs as you “walk.”


Hamstring Foam Roll

Give yourself some self-myofascial release by foam-rolling your hamstrings any time.

hamstring foam rolling | how to stretch hamstrings

  • Sit on the floor with your legs straight and a foam roller under your thighs. Place your hands on the floor on either side of your butt. This is the starting position.
  • Lift your butt and use your hands to move forward and backward, rolling the entire length of your hamstrings — from just below your butt to your knees.


hamstring stretches graphic