Hamstring flexibility is a struggle for most people because they are a large muscle group that tends to get overused and under stretched. The result is tight hamstrings.
But you can change that with simple hamstring wall stretches. You can do them anytime and anywhere there is a wall.
Our hamstrings directly affect our posture as they are used to hold our bodies upright. They also affect the amount of stress placed on our lower backs. Your hamstrings can also impact the range of motion of your knees and hips.
Improving flexibility might make daily life easier on your body. For athletes, poor hamstring flexibility has often been linked to injuries of the low back and lower extremities,
To relieve tight hamstrings, use these easy wall stretches you can do anywhere. They’ll feel amazing and release tension in not just your legs, but your hips and back too.
Legs up the wall
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Lie on your back with your butt as close to the wall as possible.
Place your legs against the wall with your feet flexed and press the back of your knees into the wall as you allow your hips to sink into the floor.
If you are extremely inflexible, the 90-degree angle at the hips with the legs straight up the wall will be enough. If you have some flexibility, this is a great way to practice lengthening the spine and squaring off the hips and pelvis while straightening the back of the legs.
Staddle Up the Wall
From the legs up the wall position, start to spread your legs like windshield wipers.
Slowly spread your legs into a straddle position keeping your feet flexed and your back flat against the wall.
Go as far as you can without arching your back. Hold that position for 30 seconds and return to the top.
You’ll also feel the stretch in your inner thighs.
Single leg hamstring wall stretch
Sit cross-legged with your butt away from the wall. The more inflexible your hamstrings, the farther away you will need to sit.
Place your hands on the floor behind you and uncross one leg to put it against the wall.
Keep the extended leg straight and the foot flexed as you press your upper body forward with your arms.
Make sure to lift your chest to lengthen your sin and keep your butt square with both cheeks on the ground. With practice, you will be able to bring your butt closer to the wall and lessen the space between your upper body and your leg.
Half forward fold
Stand facing a wall. Bend at the hips and place your hands on the wall in line with your hips.
Walk your feet back until your body comes to an L-shape. Then, walk your feet forward an inch or two so that your heels are slightly closer to the wall than your hips.
Press your palms firmly into the wall and lean back into your heels slightly to feel a stretch through your hamstrings. Hold for 30 seconds.
Single leg swipe stretch
Get your butt as close to the wall as possible. Place one leg straight up against the wall and flex your foot. Let your second leg sweep the wall slowly.
Go as low as you can while leaving the first leg pressed against the wall and your back flat against the ground. Return the second leg to the top. Repeat a couple of times before switching legs.
Strap assisted hamstring stretch
Lie on your back and loop a yoga strap around the ball of one foot.
Hold the strap with both hands. Keeping your other foot straight, lift your strapped leg and pull lightly with your hands to support the movement.
Benefits of hamstring stretches
Hamstring stretches are beneficial for athletes as well as for people who are not athletes or do not play sports. Stretching each day can improve blood flow and keep the muscles energized and loose.
Holding each stretch is important in becoming more flexible. That allows the muscle fibers to loosen and open. It’s best to try these hamstring wall stretches after your body is warmed up, so make sure not to try any of these stretches cold.
Preventing lower back pain
Tight hamstrings reduce the mobility of the pelvis, which can put pressure on the lower back. Strengthening and stretching the hamstrings can prevent them from becoming too tight and provide extra support for the back and pelvis.
Hamstring stretches can increase flexibility and improve the range of motion in the hip. Both of these benefits will help people perform daily tasks, such as walking up stairs and bending over, with ease.
When the hamstrings are too tight, the muscles rotate the pelvis backward. This can flatten the natural arch in the back, which can cause poor seated and standing posture. Keeping the hamstrings loose can help people sit straighter and stand taller.
Foam roll your legs
In addition to stretching and strengthening your hamstrings, there are benefits to foam rolling to loosen your quads and hamstrings.
Grab your foam roller and roll out your hamstrings and quads for 2-3 minutes. To get deeper into the tissue, try rolling each quad separately.
Foam roll your hamstrings
- Sit on the floor and place the foam roller under your thighs.
- Use your hands to support yourself and lift your hips then roll from the knees to the glutes.
- To increase the pressure, cross your right leg over your left leg and roll one leg at a time, turning your left leg in and out.
- Repeat on the opposite leg.
Foam roll your quads
- Lie face down on your forearms and place the foam roller under the front of your thighs.
- Use your forearms to shift back and forth to slowly roll up and down from the bottom of your hip to the top of your knee.
- For added pressure, lift your left leg and roll one leg at a time.
- Repeat on the left leg.
You can purchase a foam roller from a number of retail stores. A few of my favorites include:
- Trigger Point foam roller at Target (*I have two different sizes from Trigger Point)
- Gaiam compact foam roller at Walmart
- Trigger Point foam roller at Eastern Mountain Sports (*I have two different sizes from Trigger Point.)
- Sparkled foam roller at ProSource
Shortly after you foam roll you should start to feel your soreness fade, your muscles become more relaxed and your range of motion increase compared to before you foam rolled.
How often do you stretch your hamstrings?