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Should You Stretch a Pulled Hamstring?

author image Max Roman Dilthey
Max Roman Dilthey is a science, health and culture writer currently pursuing a master's of sustainability science. Based in Massachusetts, he blogs about cycling at
Should You Stretch a Pulled Hamstring?
Should You Stretch a Pulled Hamstring? Photo Credit: undrey/iStock/GettyImages

A pulled or strained hamstring can put a big damper on your exercise routine. If you're trying to get back to your workout as quickly as possible, it's not a good idea to stretch it right away. You need to rest your pulled hamstring, and then you can begin to build your flexibility slowly through a daily stretching routine.

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A pulled hamstring can severely reduce your ability to exercise or even walk. Strained or very sore muscles reduce your coordination and range of motion, and puts additional stress on your ligaments and tendons.

To heal your hamstrings, your first step should be at least day or two of rest until most of the soreness dissipates. Delayed onset muscle soreness is a common symptom of overtraining and a strong indicator that you need to take a break.

Once the soreness and tightness starts to decrease, your muscles will have healed enough to begin restoring flexibility. If soreness persists for more than a few days, ask a medical professional if you have a more serious injury.

Rebuilding Strained Hamstrings

If your job requires you to sit for extended periods, your hamstrings are spending most of their time compressed. This decreases your flexibility and increases your chance of a strain. Rebuilding flexibility through stretching can help heal your pulled muscles and prevent re-injury in the future.

Incorporating a daily stretching routine is the best remedy for a pulled hamstring, once the initial pain and soreness has subsided. Start your stretching and exercising routine very slowly after a pulled hamstring, with light resistance training and low-intensity cardio like walking.

Read more: The Importance of Rest Days

Stretches to Restore Flexibility

Several exercises can increase flexibility in your hamstrings. ACE Fitness recommends the supine hamstrings stretch and the modified hurdler's stretch. Do these stretches every day, and you'll see increased flexibility in your hamstrings over the course of a few weeks to a few months.

1. Supine Hamstrings Stretch

HOW TO DO IT: Start by laying flat on your back. Bend your left knee and place your foot flat on the floor, and then slowly raise your right leg straight in the air, with the sole of your foot faced toward the ceiling.

Rest your lifted leg vertically against the corner of a wall or a door jamb for stability, and then press your heel upward until your leg flattens against the wall. You should feel your hamstring stretch as your foot pulls upwards. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds and complete two to four repetitions with each leg.

2. Modified Hurdler's Stretch

HOW TO DO IT: Start by sitting on the floor with your legs straight in front of you and your toes pointed at the ceiling. Then, bend your left knee and place the sole of your left foot on the inner part of your right thigh.

While exhaling, slowly slide your hands down your right leg, keeping your head and spine aligned and straight. You'll feel a deep stretch in your right hamstring and calf. Gently hold this position without bouncing for 15 to 30 seconds, and complete two to four repetitions with each leg.

Read more: What Are the Benefits of Hamstring Flexibility?

The Modified Hurdler's Stretch can help build flexibility in your hamstrings.
The Modified Hurdler's Stretch can help build flexibility in your hamstrings. Photo Credit: g-stockstudio/iStock/GettyImages

Other Remedies for Pulled Hamstrings

Other lifestyle choices can help alleviate the soreness in your hamstrings. Massage therapy has a similar benefit, promoting blood flow to your muscles so that they can rebuild after exercise.

Additionally, keeping your workout limited to ensure you're not overtraining can prevent a pulled hamstring in the first place, keeping you on your feet for your next workout.

Read more: Healing Foods for Muscle or Joint Pain

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