6 Dynamic Hamstring Stretches That Help Loosen Tense Muscles

Dynamic Hamstring Stretches

Floery Mahoney/Design by Cristina Cianci

Having tight hamstring muscles is quite literally a pain. Your hamstrings, a group of muscles in the back of the upper leg, help bend your knees and are important for a number of physical activities like walking, running, and jumping. “Because the hamstrings are connected to the low back through the glutes, tightness can extend up through the glutes and into the low back eventually causing back strain and pain,” says Floery Mahoney, Founder of Board30. Here’s what could be behind your tight hamstrings, and a few stretches to help loosen them up.

What Causes Tight Hamstrings?

“Hamstrings get tight from exercises that contract the muscle without a contrasting eccentric extension of the muscle—things like running, skiing, squats,” says Mahoney. On the flip side, if you have a desk job or tend to sit a lot throughout the day, that can also cause your hamstrings to tighten up.

Dynamic Stretches For Your Hamstrings

One way to deal with tight hamstrings is to do dynamic stretches, which move/work your muscles as you stretch (as opposed to holding a stretch in a static position for a period of time). “This strengthens and lengthens, giving the muscle greater integrity and making it far less injury prone. It's important to be warmed up to get the most from dynamic stretching, even if it's just a little walk around the room to get blood flow up,” Mahoney explains. Dynamic stretches are great pre-workout, as a way to warm up your muscles.

6 Dynamic Hamstring Stretches

To help loosen up those hamstrings, Mahoney recommends these six stretches:

01 of 06

Standing Hamstring Stretch

Standing Hamstring 1

Floery Mahoney

Standing Hamstring 2

Floery Mahoney

  • Extend one leg and place your foot on a bar or counter at waist height or slightly higher.
  • Slowly lower your upper body down over your leg. Breath deeply as you lower over the leg. You should feel a deeper stretch each time. 
  • Repeat with the other leg.
02 of 06

Standing Roll Downs

Standing roll down 1

Floery Mahoney

Standing roll down 2

Floery Mahoney

  • Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Let your arms dangle.
  • Slowly roll your head down your body until you reach your maximum distance without bending your knees.
  • Slowly roll back up one vertebrae at a time.
03 of 06

Glute Kickbacks

Glute kickbacks 1

Floery Mahoney

Glute kickbacks 2

Floery Mahoney

  • Start on all fours on your hands and knees. Your hands should be directly below your shoulders, your knees below your hips, and your back flat.
  • Extend one leg straight out behind you.
  • Slowly curl your heel towards your glute, then slowly extend back out. Try to keep the same speed both in both directions. This can be done with or without resistance. 
  • Repeat on the other leg.
04 of 06

Lying Single Leg Stretch

Lying Single Leg Stretch 1

Floery Mahoney

Lying single leg stretch 2

Floery Mahoney

  • Lie down on your back.
  • Extend one leg towards the ceiling, keeping your tailbone and other leg on the floor.
  • Reaching up with your toes, slowly lower the leg to the ground. This can be done with or without resistance.
  • Repeat on the other leg.
05 of 06

Seated Twist

Seated twist

Floery Mahoney

  • Sit tall on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.
  • Cross one leg over the other and place your foot on the floor on the outside of your extended leg.
  • With the opposite arm of the bent leg, press the knee away from your torso, then release. Repeat several times.
  • Repeat with the other leg.
06 of 06

Seated Hamstring Stretch

Seated hamstring stretch

Floery Mahoney

  • Sit with one leg extended and the other leg folded behind with your foot towards your glutes. 
  • Fold over at the waist and reach for the shin or the foot. 
  • Roll back up to the seated position. 
  • Repeat with the other leg.
Article Sources
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  1. Harvard Medical School. Are your hamstrings working double duty? Published January 1, 2019.

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