Mobility exercises and stretches are an important part of a well-rounded workout regimen. Better mobility translates to better movement not just during training but in everyday life. One muscle that can definitely benefit from mobility work are the hamstrings. Tight hamstrings are common as a result of exercise or sitting at a desk or chair all day. They can cause stiffness, postural issues, discomfort and limit your overall mobility.
Adding a few hamstring-focused mobility stretches a few times per week can go a long way towards relieving sore hamstrings, helping you move better and shortening your recovery time. Here are our top 4 mobility stretches for tight hamstrings.
1. Sitting Hamstring Stretch
This seated stretch is a good place to start when working toward increasing the flexibility of your hamstrings. Flexibility is just one aspect of functional mobility and will go a long way in relieving tight hamstrings. Sit on the floor with one leg stretched out straight in front of you and the other bent at the knee, facing inward. Bend forward at the waist to lower your upper body towards the extended thigh, with a focus on a straight, neutral spine. Reach for and hold onto your foot (or as far as you comfortably can). Hold for 10-20 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
2. Standing Hamstring Stretch
Alternatively, for hamstring flexibility you could do a standing hamstring stretch. For this you will need a bench or other elevated surface. Rest one straight leg onto the bench in front of you. Engage the core and hinge at the hips to reach for your toes. Hold for 5-10 seconds, 3-5 times before switching to the other leg.
3. Lying Hamstring Mobility
For this stretch you will need a towel or belt. Lie down flat on your back with legs extended straight out. Bring one knee to your chest and wrap the towel or belt around the bottom of your foot. Holding both ends of the towel, try to straighten your leg toward the ceiling. Bring it back and use the towel to hug your leg closer to your chest. Repeat 3-5 times for each leg.
4. Deep Lunge Stretch
The deep lunge stretch is an excellent move for both the hamstrings and hip flexors. Our hips are another common area of tightness in the body. Step one foot out into a half-kneeling deep lunge, finding your balance and getting into a comfortable, stable position. Then push your hips forward as you bend into your front knee and straighten your back leg. Maintain the upper body straight and tall for proper posture alignment. Push through the front foot to return to the lunge and repeat on the opposite leg. Try for 3-5 on each leg.
5. Lying Hamstring Stretch Against a Wall
Set up lying on the floor against an open doorway. With the back flat against the floor and the left leg fully extended on the floor, through the doorway, lean the right leg against the wall next to the doorway. You will want to adjust your distance from the wall to get a comfortable stretch. Hold this for 10-20 seconds, 2-3 times. Then set up for the other leg.
Mobility work for tight hamstrings doesn't need to take up a substantial portion of your day or your post-workout. A few minutes is all it takes to loosen up the hamstrings, increase flexibility and mobility and help you feel and move better in your workouts as well as throughout your day.