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Hamstring stretches

The hamstring stretches are designed to improve the flexibility of the hamstring muscles and are important to maintain balance between strength and flexibility.

The large posterior thigh muscles—biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus—are collectively called the hamstring muscles, and these are the major knee flexors. The hamstrings are assisted in knee flexion by the gracilis and sartorius on the medial side of the thigh and the gastrocnemius, popliteus, and plantaris on the posterior side of the lower leg.

The hamstring muscles have two major movements—knee flexion and hip extension—and are active during any locomotive movement of the body.

It is important, however, to have the right balance of strength and flexibility between the opposing muscle groups of the thigh.


Following are the different hamstring stretches in different body positions

 
Hamstring stretch standing
Standing hamstring stretch
 

Standing hamstring stretch

  • Stand with heel propped on low table, knee straight, as shown.
  • Gently and slowly lean forward at waist
  • until stretch is felt at the back of thigh.
  • Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.
  • Gently straighten leg.
  • Repeat for 8 to 10 times.
  • Repeat with other leg.


 
Hamstring stretch forward bend
Hamstring stretch forward bend
 

Hamstring stretch forward bend

  • Sit on firm surface with one leg out in front.
  • Slowly lean forward, trying to touch toes until a stretch is felt at the back of thigh.
  • Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat for 8 to 10 times.

 
Hamstring wall stretch
Hamstring wall stretch
 

Hamstring wall stretch

  • Lie on back, leg elevated and positioned at doorway as shown.
  • Buttocks should be about 5 inches from wall, low back flat on floor.
  • Gently slide buttocks toward wall, keeping knee straight, until stretch is felt.
  • Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat for 8 to 10 times.

 
Hamstring stretch with towel
Hamstring stretch with towel
 

Hamstring stretch with towel

  • Lie on back holding a towel looped under foot with knee straight, as shown.
  • Gently pull leg up until stretch is felt at the back of thigh.
  • Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat for 8 to 10 times.

 
Kick up hamstring stretch
Kick up hamstring stretch
 

Kick up hamstring stretch

  • Lie on back holding knee from behind, pulled toward chest, as shown until stretch is felt at the back of thigh.
  • Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.
  • Gently straighten leg.
  • Repeat for 8 to 10 times.
  • Repeat with other leg.