The Only 5 Stretches You Need to Release Tight Hamstrings

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Give your hamstrings a little TLC with these moves.
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At one point or another, long-distance runners, cycling enthusiasts and weight-lifting aficionados alike have all felt the tug of tight hamstrings. Whether after a tough leg workout or a day sitting at your desk, your hamstrings deserve a little TLC.

Your hamstrings play a primary role in everyday movement, including your exercise routine. So if you wake up with stiff legs and want the relief of looser hamstrings, give these five stretches a go.

Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds, says April Whitney, certified personal trainer. Then repeat this circuit as many times as needed and incorporate it into your weekly stretch routine.

1. Supine Hamstring Stretch

1. Supine Hamstring Stretch
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/April Whitney
Skill All Levels
Time (In Seconds) 1 Min
Type Flexibility
  1. Begin lying on your back, legs extended and arms at your sides.
  2. Raise your left leg and pull the thigh gently toward your chest, either grabbing your leg above or below but never behind the knee.
  3. With every exhale, slowly draw the knee closer into the chest, keeping your right leg extended.
  4. Perform this stretch for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Tip

If this stretch feels too intense, you can modify by bending your right knee and placing the right foot flat on the ground, Whitney says. You can also bend the left knee slightly to make the stretch easier.

2. Staggered Hamstring Stretch

2. Staggered Hamstring Stretch
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/April Whitney
Skill All Levels
Time (In Seconds) 1 Min
Type Flexibility
  1. Begin standing with feet staggered, your left foot slightly in front of the right.
  2. Bend your right knee slightly wider than 90 degrees.
  3. Keeping a flat back, push your hips back to feel a stretch in your left hamstring.
  4. Keep moving the hips back to deepen the stretch.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

"I like this stretch because it teaches you the proper way to stretch your hamstrings — with a flat back and from the hips — rather than just pulling at your feet using your back," Whitney says.

3. World's Greatest Stretch

3. World's Greatest Stretch
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/April Whitney
Skill All Levels
Time (In Seconds) 1 Min
Type Flexibility
  1. Begin in a low lunge. Bend your right knee to 90 degrees and extend your left leg straight out behind you, your knee on the floor.
  2. Place your left hand down on the ground on the left side of your front right knee.
  3. Extend your left arm straight up toward the ceiling, rotating and opening up your torso toward the front leg.
  4. Hold here for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Tip

To make this stretch deeper, you can lift the back knee off the floor and bring your elbows to the ground on the inside of your front leg.

4. Seated Hamstring Stretch

4. Seated Hamstring Stretch
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/April Whitney
Skill All Levels
Time (In Seconds) 30 Sec
Type Flexibility
  1. Start seated with your legs straight out in front of you, back straight.
  2. Hinge at the hips and begin to bend the torso forward toward your thighs, maintaining a flat back.
  3. Keep your hands at your sides and deepen the stretch with every exhale.
  4. As you hold this stretch, resist the urge to fold over your legs with a rounded back and grab your toes.
  5. Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds.

5. Doorway Stretch

5. Doorway Stretch
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/April Whitney
Skill All Levels
Time (In Seconds) 30 Sec
Type Flexibility
  1. Lie on your back in a doorway.
  2. Lift your left leg straight up toward the ceiling and place the leg against the wall.
  3. Extend your right leg straight.
  4. Gradually, move your hips closer to the doorway, deepening the stretch.
  5. Hold here for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
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