How to Fix Tight Hamstrings

How to Fix Tight Hamstrings

February 08, 2024

If you’ve ever found yourself dealing with nagging hamstring tightness that simply won’t go away, you’re not alone!

So today, we’re going to cover a few of our favorite strategies that we use to help our clients solve their hamstring tightness for good!

1. Use Movement Breaks

Many instances of nagging tightness that won’t seem to go away, whether it’s your hamstrings, lower back, mid back, or any other area, are simply due to a lack of overall movement in that area.

Most of us have desk jobs and sedentary lifestyles that require us to be unmoving for large chunks of our day, save the time we go to the gym or go for a run.

When you aren’t moving much, it’s very normal for different areas to feel constantly tight.

So one of the best ways to combat this is to set a timer and do little “movement breaks” each hour. This can be something as easy as getting up and going for a walk for a few minutes, or doing some easy bodyweight exercises or stretches.

2. Passive Stretches

Using passive stretches can be a great way to reduce hamstring stiffness/tightness, the issue is that most people just don’t do enough of them to truly make a difference.

Just like you wouldn’t expect doing one set of bicep curls every other week would lead to substantial increases in biceps size, doing a few 10-15 second holds two to three times a week probably won’t change your hamstring flexibility much.

We recommend holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds, and ideally 60 seconds or more. We also recommend performing three sets of each stretch at least three to four times per week.

Here are a few passive hamstring stretch variations:

3. Active Stretches

Moving on from passive stretches, another great way to stretch your hamstrings is with active stretching.

These can either be actively lengthening your hamstring as much as possible, or controlling the lengthening of the muscle.

Here are a few variations we use with our clients:

The key with these is to slowly control the motion, and hold the most stretched position for five to 10 seconds, performing three sets of six to eight reps at least three to four times per week.

4. Loaded Stretches (i.e. strength training!)

This is probably our favorite way to address tight hamstrings, because not only do you get the flexibility benefits of stretching, you also get the strength and hypertrophy benefits of strength training!

The key with loaded stretching is to pick exercises that allow you to train through a large range of motion, and pause at the most stretched position for two to three seconds per rep.

Here are a few variations that we use with our clients:

We recommend performing three sets of six to 10 reps, two to three times per week.

You certainly don’t have to do ALL of these techniques each week to improve your hamstring tightness, but mixing and matching them so you’re doing something for your hamstrings most days per week is a great idea.

Here is a little sample program that we had put together for one of our clients who was dealing with this exact issue:

Monday – RDL 3 x 8, 2-3s holds at bottom

Tuesday – Bench Hamstring Stretch, 3 x 30-60s holds

Wednesday – Supine Active Hamstring Stretch, 3 x 6, 5s holds

Thursday – Seated Hamstring Curl, 3 x 10, 2s holds

Friday – Rest

Saturday – Supine Hamstring Stretch, 3 x 60s holds

Sunday – Half Kneeling Hamstring Slides, 3 x 6, 5s holds

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