The hamstring is a group of muscles located on either side of your body. They are attached to your ischial tuberosity, the bone you usually rest on when sitting, run down either femur, and finally attach on the other side of your knee joint. This muscle group can cause pain or discomfort in many areas that may surprise you. Your legs and hips may be the obvious ones, but also your buttocks, hips, pelvic floor, back and spine can also be affected.
BENEFITS OF HAMSTRING STRETCH:
- Decrease pain in pelvic, back, and thigh regions
- Help with conditions associated with pelvic floor dysfunction
- Increase pelvic, spine, and hip mobility
- Increased mobility allows for improved body mechanics when bending, lifting, or twisting
- Gain flexibility in your pelvis, back, spine, hips, and thighs
- Increased flexibility allows for improved strength gains through all lower extremities
Hamstring stretches can be done in a number of ways, and any of the variations provided in my YouTube video
, or this article, are a perfect chance for gaining increased flexibility and range of motion. All of the demonstrated variations can be done on either side of your body.
If you’re just a beginner or seeking a gentle way to ease into stretching, any of these are a great choice to begin your journey. Hamstring stretches can be done by themselves, or within a sequence of stretches , so start reaping those benefits today, and give it a shot! Begin by relaxing deeply, focusing on your diaphragmatic breathing, and find what you need to be supported properly in the guide below.
EXERCISE! Practice your diaphragmatic breathing with this stretch 3x daily. Hold for 90 seconds at a time. This hold time is important for your body to transition and downregulate. It may feel uncomfortable at first. Meet your body where it’s at and breathe through it.
VARIATION 1: SUPINE HAMSTRING STRETCH
For this variation you will need some additional supplies. In the example, I utilize a yoga strap, you can too, but you are also welcome to use a belt, some people even like to utilize a resistance band or theraband, whatever gets the best stretch for you. If your band is not already a loop, you will need to create a loop with your strap or band by putting the end through the ring on the other side like the image above
Lay on your back, raise your knees, and place your feet soles down on the floor or mat about 12-18 inches below your buttocks. Bring one knee up towards your chest, and utilize the strap to loop around your foot on the same leg.
Extend the foot in the strap up toward the sky, as in the example above and slowly tighten the strap as you extend to help you gain a comfortable, yet firm hold throughout the stretch.
Once you have the strap tightened, extend your other leg out straight along the floor or mat, and begin to stretch. It’s always best to start low and work your way up. The above image demonstrates a perfect starting position on the left. To work your way up, gradually walk your hands up your strap until you reach the perfect position. The right image is my maximum reach today. Some days might be better or worse for your range of motion and flexibility, this is a great variation which allows you to adjust regularly until you feel that nice, deep stretch through your hamstring muscles.
VARIATION 2: SEATED HAMSTRING STRETCH
I love this option for my office workers! Begin by scooting forward to the edge of your chair, enough so that your leg can extend fully straight, all the way through your knee joint, without issue. Place the ball of one foot on the floor, extending that leg straight. Place your other foot, sole flat on the floor, with your ankle directly below your knee. Sit tall, with your chest reaching forward. Once here you can begin to lean forward to deepen that stretch, like the image below. Use your hands, rested on your alternate knee, to support you as you lean into the position.
ASK YOURSELF! As you work through these stretch options, check in and ask yourself: Is it a stretch, or is it a pain? A stretch-like pulling sensation is normal, it may feel uncomfortable, but investigate that feeling. A stretching sensation should gradually reduce with time and allow you to continue to deepen throughout the position. Pain, alternately, does not change, or may even increase in intensity. If you feel pain, gently ease out of that stretch and try again utilizing a different variation. There are lots of ones to choose from!
For a full range of poses and stretches, with a multitude of modifications, check out the following resources! Use these to design an individualized, daily plan to build healthy movement into your life!
PELVIC YOGA POSES:
PELVIC FLOOR STRETCHES:
I LOVE the yoga store listed below for their quality, and variety of options, designed to meet all of your needs. Manduka is a great one-stop-shop for high-quality yoga products. They also sell clothing and other accessories to make those pelvic stretches possible for everyone.
DISCLOSURE: Hi there! – I truly hope you love any product I recommend, I always try them out personally or with my patients. At times, I use affiliate links. You do not pay more, a small percentage of the sale goes to the person who has influenced your purchase. This helps me to continue offering free content. Let me know your experience! All pricing is up to date at the time of posting.