5 best hamstring stretches for runners

As a passionate runner, you understand the importance of strong, flexible muscles to conquer those miles with ease. When it comes to optimizing your running and preventing injuries, one crucial area to focus on is your hamstrings. These powerful muscles, located on the back of your thighs, play an important role in your running stride and overall lower body stability.

Many runners and people who work out often neglect something that can help with performance, warm-up and cool-down routines, aka dynamic and static stretching.

woman doing scoop hamstring stretches for runners

Research shows that dynamic stretches are a great way to improve how well your muscles and joints move while boosting blood flow and prepping your body for the work that’s to come. Static stretches, while still important, should be used after running.

Dynamic stretching

Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching that involves active movements, mimicking the actions you’ll perform during your workout.

Unlike static stretching where you hold a position, dynamic stretching keeps you moving. 

Dynamic stretching activates the muscles you’ll be using, improving muscle coordination and boosting neuromuscular communication. This can lead to better performance and reduced risk of injury. Plus, it helps improve your overall athletic performance by increasing your power, speed and agility.

Remember, dynamic stretching is best suited for pre-workout warm-ups. Choose stretches that target the specific muscles and movements you’ll be using during your workout. 

The role of hamstring muscles in running

The hamstring are a group of three muscles located at the back of your leg: 

  • Biceps femoris
  • Semitendinosus
  • Semimembranosus 

These muscles originate from the pelvis and insert at various points on the shinbones. They are responsible for flexing the knee joint and extending the hip joint, making them crucial for running movements.

During running, the hamstrings work dynamically to control leg swing and maintain stability. They assist in pushing the body forward by extending the hip and providing power during push-off. Additionally, they play a crucial role in decelerating the leg as it swings forward during the swing phase of running. 

Importance of hamstring flexibility for runners

Having loose and flexible hamstrings can help prevent runners from experiencing low back pain and glute problems.

If you don’t stretch regularly, tight hamstrings can often lead to low back pain, bad posture and technique, muscle imbalances and knee pain. 

Improved running efficiency

Flexible hamstrings allow for a longer stride length and better leg extension, optimizing your running efficiency. This means you can cover more ground with each step and maintain a smoother running gait.

Injury prevention 

Tight hamstrings can increase the risk of various running-related injuries including muscle strains and tears. When your hamstrings are tight, they can pull on the pelvis, altering your lower body alignment and placing excess stress on other muscles and joints. This imbalance may lead to issues like lower back pain, knee pain, or even hamstring strains. 

Enhanced performance

Flexible hamstrings contribute to greater power generation and stride propulsion. With a wider range of motion, you can generate more force and speed during push-off, resulting in improved performance, whether you’re sprinting, running long distances or tackling challenging terrains.

Benefits of incorporating hamstring stretches into your running routine

The benefits of incorporating hamstring stretches into your regular running routine

  1. Increased range of motion: Regular stretching helps increase the flexibility and range of motion in your hamstrings. This allows your muscles to move freely and efficiently through their full range, enhancing your overall running mechanics.
  2. Improved muscle balance: Stretching the hamstrings helps maintain a balance between muscle groups, reducing the risk of muscle imbalances. This balance promotes proper alignment and reduces the strain on other muscles and joints involved in running.
  3. Enhanced recovery: Engaging in hamstring stretches post-run can aid in muscle recovery by promoting blood flow to the muscles and reducing muscle soreness. It also helps relax the muscles and prevents them from tightening up, aiding in faster recovery and reducing post-run discomfort.

Best hamstring stretches for runners

To maintain optimal hamstring flexibility and support your running performance, it’s essential to incorporate effective stretches into your routine. Here are some of the best hamstring stretches specifically tailored for runners:


Use: Dynamic stretch

frankenstein hamstring stretches
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Step kick with your left leg and extend your right arm forward
  • Try to touch your left foot with your hand then return as you walk forward.
  • Kick your right leg up and try to reach your left hand. 
  • Alternate legs and arms.


Use: Dynamic stretch

scoops hamstring stretches
woman doing scoop hamstring stretches for runners
  • Stand with your right leg forward and your left leg back, both heels touching the ground.
  • Bring both arms to your back heel, and in a scooping motion, move up towards and past your toes. 
  • Switch legs and perform the same movement. 

Single leg forward fold

Use: Static stretch

single leg fold hamstring stretches is a great stretch for runners
  • Start by placing your feet hip-width apart.
  • Step forward with your left leg and place your left heel on the ground.
  • Bend your right knee slightly.
  • Bend forward at your waist towards your heel until you feel a stretch while keeping your back straight.
  • Hold for 30-60 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Kneeling half fold single leg

Use: Static stretch

kneeling fold hamstring stretch is great for runners after a run
  • Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.
  • Keeping your back straight, hinge forward at the hips.
  • Reach towards your toes or as far as comfortable, feeling a stretch in your hamstrings.
  • Hold the position for 20-30 seconds, breathing deeply.

On back with band leg up and down

Use: Static stretch

  • Lie on your back with both legs extended.
  • Bend one knee and bring it towards your chest.
  • Loop a resistance band or yoga strap around the ball of your foot.
  • Gently straighten your leg while holding the towel or band, feeling a stretch in your hamstring.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds and then switch sides.
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