Tight hamstrings: Easy stretches to manage it | Gleneagles Hospitals
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Tight hamstrings: Easy stretches to manage it

18 May 2023 · 4 mins read


Learn some easy and necessary routine stretches for hamstrings for better flexibility and mobility.

Hamstrings are the muscles at the back of your thighs that are responsible for bending the knee and extending the hip. Tight hamstrings refer to a condition where these muscles feel tight or restricted.

Our muscles can become less flexible as we age, leading to tightness in the hamstrings. Tight hamstrings may also be caused by the following:

  • Muscle strain
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Jobs that require prolonged sitting
  • Insufficient stretching before an intense workout
  • Overuse due to activities that require a lot of running, kicking or jumping
  • Previous hamstring injury

Hamstring tightness symptoms

  • Pain in the back of the thigh, especially during physical activities
  • Swelling
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tenderness over the hamstring muscles
  • Limited range of motion

Importance of hamstring stretches

Tight hamstrings impact other muscles, such as the glutes in the pelvis. It also reduces the mobility of the pelvis and puts pressure on the lower back, causing back pain. Regular stretching prevents the tightening of the hamstrings and keeping these muscles loose. This will give additional support to your back and pelvic muscles and help you to stand taller and sit straighter.

Stretching also help improve the range of motion and flexibility, thereby reducing the risk of injury in the hamstring muscles. Stretching can also help improve blood flow to the muscles, reducing muscle soreness and promoting faster recovery after exercise.

Best stretches for tight hamstrings

Depending on the severity of the tightness and the individual's overall health and flexibility, the length of time needed to loosen stiff hamstrings can vary.

Stretching and exercise may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to substantially improve hamstring flexibility.

A physiotherapist or doctor can provide guidance and a customised treatment plan to help address these issues and gradually improve hamstring flexibility.

Sitting hamstring stretch for beginners

  • Sit at the tip of a chair and straighten one leg forward.
  • The heels should touch the floor, with the toes pointing up.
  • Straighten your spine by sitting tall.
  • Roll the pelvis forward and hold this position for 30-40 seconds.
  • The above steps should be repeated 4-5 times on each leg.

Hamstring yoga stretches

Specific yoga poses are very effective for the hamstring muscles. Regular practice of these poses will help relieve tight hamstrings and improve balance and flexibility. In addition, these are also considered helpful in improving the body’s alignment and posture.

  1. Downward-facing dog (Adho mukha svanasana)
    • Start with the tabletop position.
    • Tuck your toes with inhalation.
    • During exhalation, shift your hips up and back while pressing down your knuckles.
    • Release your heels towards the floor.
    • If you feel tightness adjust the pose by bending your knees.
    • Come back to the original pose while breathing out.
    • Repeat this pose at least 4-5 times.
  2. Upward Plank Pose (Purvottanasana)
    • To start with, get into the previously mentioned bridge pose.
    • Lower your hips to the floor.
    • Place your palms outside of the outer hips.
    • Give pressure to your hands and lift your torso and hips (your shoulders should stack above your wrists).
    • Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and gently release.

Lower body stretch for back pain

  1. Hamstring stretch in lying down
    • Lie down on your back on a comfortable firm surface.
    • Lift your right/left leg up into a 90-degree angle with your knee bended.
    • Straighten up your knee until you feel a tolerable stretch at the back of your thigh.
    • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat for 2-3 times each session.
  2. Piriformis stretch in lying position
    • Lie down on your back on a comfortable firm surface.
    • Bend both knees and put your right/left heel on the opposite knee.
    • Place your hand on the opposite leg and pull it towards your body until you feel a comfortable stretch of at back of your thigh and buttock region
    • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat for 2-3 times each session

Hamstring stretches for runners

It is extremely essential to loosen your hamstring muscles before a run to avoid any muscle injury.

Frankenstein stretch

  • Stand with your back straight and arms extended in front of you.
  • Gently lift your right leg closer to your extended arm, while maintaining your knee in extension and your back straightened.
  • Bring your foot up as close as possible for your hands to tap it.
  • Repeat the same on your other leg.

Book an appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals

The caring and multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals are available for consultation and to provide the best care.

Get in touch with us to book an appointment with an Orthopaedic specialist or the team of physiotherapists and clinical rehabilitative team specialists at Gleneagles Hospital today.


  1. Hamstring injury. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hamstring-injury/ [Assessed on 10 January 2023]
  2. A novel approach to improve hamstring flexibility: A single-blinded randomised clinical trial. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6495003/ [Assessed on 10 January 2023]
  3. Hamstring injuries. Available at: https://patient.info/bones-joints-muscles/sports-injuries/hamstring-injuries [Assessed on 10 January 2023]

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