4 Hamstring Stretches You Can Do Right Now

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.
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1. 90-Degree Leg Extensions

Lie on your back with one leg extended out on the floor, and bring your other knee toward your chest so you can wrap a band or strap around your foot. Then, holding on to one end of the strap, extend that leg fully — aim toward the ceiling, but only lift the leg as high as you can while keeping the leg straight. Breathe deeply and hold for at least 10 seconds.
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2. Half Split Rocking

Start kneeling, then extend one leg out to the side with your toe pointing forward. Place your hands on the ground in front of you, and then begin to shift your torso back and forth — move your butt toward your kneeling heel, shifting the weight from your hands to your legs, then shift forward again. Then, add a hamstring stretch by doing this: When your butt is shifted back, rotate your extended leg so the toe is pointing up, then rotate the leg back, and repeat 10 times.
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3. Standing Toe Touch

We bet you've done this one before, and if you haven't, you should. It'll let you stretch not only your hamstrings but also the entire backs of your legs and your lower back. Keep your legs straight and your feet even with your hips, and bend at the hips, moving your torso toward your legs and your head toward the floor. Once you've reached as far as you can go, rest your hands on the floor or your legs and breathe deeply for 20-30 seconds. If you find yourself getting lightheaded before the time is up, gently return to standing.
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4. Walkouts

Start standing, then bend at the hips, bringing your torso toward your legs and your head toward the floor. Reach your arms toward the floor and plant your hands, bending your knees slightly if needed. Begin to "walk" your hands away from your feet, keeping your legs as straight as possible, until your body is in a plank position with your shoulders directly above your wrists. Pause, then "walk" your hands back to your feet and return to standing. Repeat 10 times.

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