How to Do a Hamstring Stretch: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a standing hamstring stretch to help with leg and back flexibility, plus modifications to make this stretch easier or harder.

Published Date: Oct 5, 2023
man-stretching-leg

How to Do a Hamstring Stretch: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a standing hamstring stretch to help with leg and back flexibility, plus modifications to make this stretch easier or harder.

Published Date: Oct 5, 2023
man-stretching-leg

How to Do a Hamstring Stretch: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a standing hamstring stretch to help with leg and back flexibility, plus modifications to make this stretch easier or harder.

Published Date: Oct 5, 2023
man-stretching-leg

How to Do a Hamstring Stretch: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a standing hamstring stretch to help with leg and back flexibility, plus modifications to make this stretch easier or harder.

Published Date: Oct 5, 2023
man-stretching-leg
Table of Contents

Ever feel tightness in the backs of your legs, hips, or back when you stand up after sitting for a while? This is a very common problem and something that can be due, at least in part, to tight hamstrings. When the hamstring muscles (in the backs of your thighs) get too tight, it can affect how you move and how different structures in your body feel, like your back, hips, and knees. The standing hamstring stretch is an effective way to soothe joint and muscle pain, particularly in these areas. 

Here, learn more about how to perform the hamstring stretch, how to modify it, and how it can help you feel better as you go about your daily activities. 

Our Hinge Health Experts

Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.

What Is the Hamstring Stretch?

The hamstring stretch is a stretch that targets — you guess it — the hamstring muscles, which are located on the back of the thigh. These muscles play a crucial role in many everyday activities, including walking, running, and jumping. There are many ways to perform this stretch, including from a standing position, which you’ll see below. 

What Muscles Does the Hamstring Stretch Work? 

The hamstrings are a group of three muscles located on the back of the thigh, and they include the biceps femoris, the semitendinosus, and the semimembranosus. These work together to bend your knee and extend your hip

In addition to the hamstrings, the hamstring stretch can indirectly target other muscles, such as the gastrocnemius (a calf muscle), adductors (inner thigh muscles), erector spinae (muscles along the spine), and glutes (butt muscles). 

Benefits of the Hamstring Stretch

The standing hamstring stretch offers a range of benefits, such as: 

  • Improved flexibility, which can help hip and knee range of motion.

  • Reduced risk of injury, such as sprains and strains.

  • Back pain relief 

  • Better circulation to help with muscle soreness.

  • Improved posture. Although there’s no such thing as perfect posture, tight hamstrings can pull down on the pelvis, causing your natural posture to shift. Keeping your hamstrings loose can help you maintain a comfortable position throughout your day that works for you. 

  • Better balance and coordination. As you hold the stretch, you also engage other muscles that help you maintain your balance. This can subtly improve balance and coordination over time.

All of this helps with everyday activities, like picking up items off the floor, walking, running, sitting and standing, climbing stairs, doing yard work and household chores, and more.

Hamstring Stretch: Exercises and Modifications 

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

Hamstring

Hamstring

Hamstring

Hamstring

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To do a hamstring stretch: 

  • Stand in a comfortable position and stretch one leg out in front of you, placing your heel on the floor with your toes lifted toward the ceiling. 

  • Hinge at your hips to move your chest toward the floor while keeping your legs straight. 

  • You should feel a stretch in the back of your thigh while you hold this position. 

  • Return to a standing position. 

Everyone is different, which is why you may need to modify this stretch to meet your needs.

Hamstring Modifications

Hamstring Modifications

Hamstring Modifications

Hamstring Modifications

To make the hamstring stretch easier:  

  • Limit how far you move your chest toward the floor. 

To make the hamstring stretch harder: 

  • Move your chest farther toward the floor to deepen the stretch. 

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program. 

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.  

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. 

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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References

  1. López-de-Celis, C., Izquierdo-Nebreda, P., González-Rueda, V., Cadellans-Arróniz, A., Rodríguez-Sanz, J., Bueno-Gracia, E., & Pérez-Bellmunt, A. (2022). Short-Term Effects of Three Types of Hamstring Stretching on Length, Neurodynamic Response, and Perceived Sense of Effort—A Randomised Cross-Over Trial. ProQuest, 12(10), 1666. doi:10.3390/life12101666

  2. Feland, J. B., Myrer, J. W., Schulthies, S. S., Fellingham, G. W., & Measom, G. W. (2001). The Effect of Duration of Stretching of the Hamstring Muscle Group for Increasing Range of Motion in People Aged 65 Years or Older. Physical Therapy, 81(5), 1110–1117. doi:10.1093/ptj/81.5.1110

  3. Shamsi, M., Mirzaei, M., Shahsavari, S., Safari, A., & Saeb, M. (2020). Modeling the effect of static stretching and strengthening exercise in lengthened position on balance in low back pain subject with shortened hamstring: a randomized controlled clinical trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 21(1). doi:10.1186/s12891-020-03823-z