A female runner stretching out her hamstrings before she starts to run

7 Effective Stretches to Relieve Tight Hamstrings and Prevent Running Injuries

Tight hamstrings can be a major contributor to several different types of pain or orthopedic injury. Running injuries, back pain, hip pain, and knee pain can all be stemmed from short and tight hamstrings. Use these 7 effective stretches to relieve tight hamstrings to not only improve running form but reduce the risk of running injury.

Chair Hamstring Stretch

Facing a chair, place the foot of the leg to be stretched on the chair. Bending at the waist and knee, lean forward until the trunk is on top of the thigh. Push back with the lower leg until a stretch is felt. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.

Heel Prop Hamstring Stretch

Place leg to be stretched on an object 6-8 inches off the ground in front of you. Gently lean forward at the hips careful not to just round the back until a gentle stretch is felt.

Hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.

Seated Hamstring Stretch

Sitting on a table or mat with leg outstretched in front and opposite foot resting on the floor, ensure that hips are facing forward and straight. Outstretching hands in front, lean forward at the hips until a gentle stretch is felt. Hold 15-20 seconds and repeat 3-5 times. Take are to not round the lumbar spine and keep it in a neutral position focusing movement to the hips.

PNF Contract-Relax Stretch

Lying back with opposite leg bent, place the leg to be stretched on a partner’s shoulder.

Have your partner straighten your leg at the knee as straight as possible. Press down in to your partner’s shoulder with you heel trying to bend the knee. Hold for 5 seconds.

As you relax, have your partner take up the slack and straighten your knee further.

Repeat 3-5 times.

Leg Drops

Lying on your back, lift both legs in to the air with legs straight. Place a strap around the foot of the leg to be stretch, holding it up. Slowly lower and lift opposite leg 10 times.

Rest and repeat three times.

Doorway Hamstring Stretch

On your back, scoot buttocks towards the doorway and place leg to be stretched
straight on the wall and the opposite leg through the doorway. Bend the opposite knee.

Use the wall to stretch your hamstrings. Hold a gentle stretch for 15-20 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.

Foam Rolling

To foam roll the hamstrings, with the foam roller on the floor, sit with back of the leg over the roller. Gently roll back and forth using hands to propel for 2-3 minutes. This can often be a painful process, but the results are well worth the effort to relieve tightness in the hamstrings.

Tight hamstrings can increase your risk for multiple problems. By spending the extra time to adequately stretch, you reduce incidences of back pain, knee pain, and running injuries.

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