How do I Increase Hamstring Flexibility?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

There are a number of ways to increase hamstring flexibility that can improve general comfort and range of motion during daily activities such as walking, completing household chores, and gardening. Hamstring flexibility is also crucial to people such as athletes and dancers who rely on a limber body to succeed in their careers. There are some practices such as yoga and pilates that are very good to stretching and lengthening many muscles in the body. People who are trying to increase hamstring flexibility may find that practicing certain exercises and poses from these two types of exercises might be a great way to improve the flexibility in their hamstrings, as well as the flexibility in all of the muscles in the legs and their entire body as a whole.

One of the best exercises for hamstring flexibility is a floor exercise.
One of the best exercises for hamstring flexibility is a floor exercise.

In addition to practicing yoga and pilates for hamstring flexibility, there are also a number of basic ballet exercises that target the hamstrings. Taking a beginner's course in ballet for adults may be a great way to improve hamstring flexibility. For those who cannot spend the time to take weekly courses in any of these practices, there are a number of types of stretches that can be practiced right at home. It is important to remember that these sorts of stretches should only be practiced by people who are in moderate to good physical health and whose doctors agree that they are in good enough shape to exercise on their own.

There are a number of types of stretches to increase hamstring flexibility.
There are a number of types of stretches to increase hamstring flexibility.

One of the most basic exercises for hamstring flexibility is a floor exercise. The first step is to sit on the floor with the legs stretched out from the upper body at a 90-degree angle, the body being upright. Bend at the waist while keeping the knees straight and lean forward as far as possible, reaching for the toes. Very flexible people may be able to grasp their feet while people with very tight hamstrings may only be able to grasp their calves or even their knees. Hold the pose for 10 seconds, relax, and then try again.

Upon first beginning floor exercises, some people with tight hamstrings may not be able to reach their feet.
Upon first beginning floor exercises, some people with tight hamstrings may not be able to reach their feet.

Practicing this exercise, in repetition, over a period of time will help to improve hamstring flexibility. There are a number of types of exercises like this for hamstring flexibility. Find a few that work well and practice them on a regular basis. Also, consider doing this in the mornings in order to warm up the muscles for the day and in the evenings in order to relax before bed.

Practicing yoga may help improve hamstring flexibility.
Practicing yoga may help improve hamstring flexibility.
Injuries to the hamstring muscles are relatively common, and may take a long time to heal.
Injuries to the hamstring muscles are relatively common, and may take a long time to heal.
Gentle, slow leg stretches can increase a runner's flexibility, while also helping to prevent muscle sprains or tears.
Gentle, slow leg stretches can increase a runner's flexibility, while also helping to prevent muscle sprains or tears.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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