We spend most of our time either sitting, which tightens our hamstrings, or walking, which tires them out. So, it's important to stretch them regularly, says Leah Will, certified personal trainer and partner at Spindle Fitness.
Stretching your hamstrings is essential before a workout so that your body's prepared for everything you're about to ask of it. But you should make sure you're moving (think: "bend and release" stretches and dynamic movement-based warmups) during your pre-workout stretches, not just holding them for an extended period of time. Static stretching is great post-workout, though. And repeatedly stretching your hamstrings can help you work up to more advanced stretches, like splits.
Even if you're not working out, hamstring stretches are helpful for people working at a desk all day long. Will recommends getting up to stretch every couple of hours throughout the workday if you can, or at least stretching once a day.
You don't really have to worry about stretching too much, says Will, unless you're at risk of getting so flexible that your joints become unstable. That only tends to happen to yoga instructors and other people constantly stretching.
The good news is that you don't need a gym, a lot of time, or any exercise equipment to do hamstring stretches. Here are a few simple ones you can try right now.