If the backs of your legs feel tight, you probably have tight hamstrings. Tight hamstrings are very common and doing hamstring stretches can help you to become more limber. Having tight hamstrings can contribute to back pain, hip pain and knee pain. Tight hamstrings can also increase your susceptibility to hamstring injury. If you are an athlete with tight hamstrings, you will notice improvement in your performance when you begin to gain flexibility in your hamstrings. The following hamstring stretches are quick and easy and you don’t need any special gym equipment to do them. You just need a rope or towel for one of the exercises. Here are four effective hamstring stretches that will help you increase your flexibility. Do these hamstring stretches at least three times every week and you should feel improved flexibility in just two weeks.
1. Forward Bend
Start this hamstring stretch by sitting on a flat surface with your legs stretched out and together. Bending at the waist, slowly reach down to your feet and touch your toes. Make sure you are not bouncing or straining to touch your toes. Just reach as far as you can comfortably and hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Try to keep your back flat, not rounded and breathe. Repeat this stretch two to three times.
2. Modified Forward Bend
Start this hamstring stretch the same way as you did the regular forward bend. This time bend one of your legs so that your knee is pointing outside and your foot is resting on the inside of your other leg. You should find that bending one of your legs makes it easier for you to stretch forward. Again, be mindful to keep your back flat and resist straining or bouncing. Try to grab your foot. Hold this position for 20 seconds then switch legs.
3. L- Stretch
Find a wall with a corner or a doorway. Start the L- stretch by sitting down facing the wall and scoot your butt as close to the wall or doorway as it will go. Lie on your back and extend one leg out in front of you on the floor. Place the other leg on the wall and try to extend your hamstring so it is at a 90-degree angle. Hold this stretch for 60 seconds and switch legs.
4. Rope Stretch
The rope stretch is a favorite among physical therapists and coaches alike. Using the same idea as the L-stretch, start by lying on your back with your legs out in front of you. Place one foot in the center of the exercise rope (or towel). Keeping your leg straight, bring your leg to a 90-degree angle by pulling on the towel toward you until you feel a comfortable stretch. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and switch legs. Repeat two or three times.