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Having tight hamstrings can not only create pain, but it can also limit your mobility. And sadly, most of us can’t simply just stretch them to loosen them up. That’s why this article will show you some of the best and different strategies for improving your hamstring flexibility besides stretching.

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Release The Muscles and Fascia

The first strategy is to self-massage not only the hamstrings but also the other muscles around it. Massaging tight muscles can help loosen them up and release the fascia system that connects the top of the head to the bottom of the feet.

In fact, you can work on this fascia system by itself in another area of the body and still see results within your hamstring flexibility.

Let's prove it by releasing the body's first area, which is the bottom of the foot.

Bottom of Foot

What you want to do is take a small ball and roll it on the bottom of the foot for 1-2 minutes each side. You can also use any other tool you have or a small object that’s also dense.

After working this area for 1-2 minutes, you should feel some improvements in your hamstring flexibility. But, we are not done because there are several other muscles you should also be releasing with it.

Make sure to go through all of the self-massage techniques for the best results possible.

Cross Fiber Friction

Slow Roll

Micro Movements

Calves

To release this muscle and the fascia, I suggest using a foam roller or a small ball. You can do this by using different techniques like slow rolling, micro-movements, or a pin and stretch. Now because this is a muscle that holds a lot of tension, I recommend self-massaging this muscle for 2-3 minutes.

Pin and Stretch

Slow Roll

Micro Movements

Hamstrings

There are 2 ways you can release your hamstrings. The first one is on the floor with a foam roller, where you can apply techniques like a slow roll or micro-movements.

Besides the floor, you can also release the muscle while sitting on a bench with a smaller ball and with the knee bent. This allows you to add some extra pressure and a technique called pin and stretch.

Regardless of whichever techniques you want to perform, make sure to release this muscle for 3-4 minutes because it is a bigger muscle.

Slow Roll

Micro Movements

Quads

If the quads become overactive and tight, then it may lead to the hamstrings becoming stretched out to their limit. This will make it harder to stretch them out since they are already elongated.

If this is the case, you should roll out the quads using a foam roller for 2-3 minutes.

You can perform any technique you want, like a slow roll, a pin and stretch, or micro-movements.

Pin and Stretch

Slow Roll

Micro Movements

Glutes

To release the glutes, sit on a foam roller while rotating to the side with the glute you want to release. From here, you can perform different techniques like static pressure, micro-movements, or a pin and stretch for 1-2 minutes.

Pin and Stretch

Pin and Twist

Micro Movements

Erectors

To release this muscle, you will need a smaller ball like a lacrosse ball or a tennis ball while up against the wall or on the floor.

From here, you can perform either static pressure, micro-movements, or a pin and stretch by pinning the muscle and leaning the opposite side for 2-3 minutes on each side. Just make sure you’re not pressing into the spine but instead, you’re working on the muscles next to it.

Pin and Stretch

Slow Roll

Micro Movements

Stretch Out the Tight Muscles

One of the most popular ways to release a tight muscle is to stretch it out.

But, we have learned that if you add stretching after self-massaging the tight muscles, lengthening them out becomes way easier because you’re not stretching against the fascia or tight muscles anymore.

And by stretching out all the muscles we just released, the hamstrings will hold their new length for a lot longer as well.

Foot and Calf

The first stretch you can perform is calf stretch with both of your hands on the floor and your shoes off. This will help stretch out the bottom of the foot and the calf muscle simultaneously.

Make sure to keep your knee straight and push back to touch your heel to the floor.

If stretching the toes is too much, you can help loosen them up by sitting back on them to get them lengthened out.

Make sure to stretch this muscle out for 60 seconds on each side.

Calf Stretch

Toe Stretch

Hamstrings

The next muscle you could stretch is the hamstrings and to do this; I recommend performing a PNF Stretch.

PNF stands for Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation. And the whole idea of it is to “trick” the nervous system into letting go of the muscle for a few seconds, which allows you to stretch the muscle out a little more.

Start off with one foot on top of the bench to stretch the hamstrings.

Make sure your back foot is pointing straight towards the bench and the foot of the hamstring you’re stretching is also pointed towards the ceiling. This will help ensure an even stretch for both the medial and lateral hamstrings.

From here, stretch the muscle as far as you can without any pain or discomfort. Once you reach your stretch limit, contract the hamstring so that it's pressing into the bench. The hamstring should NOT be moving but it should be isometrically contracting. Do this for 7-15 seconds at 30-40% of your stretch.

Now release the contraction and move into your stretch a little more and hold for 60 seconds each side.

If you would like to target the lateral hamstrings, then you can rotate the leg you’re stretching inwards and vice versa for the medial hamstrings.

Single Leg Stretch on Floor

Double Leg Stretch

Single Leg Stretch on Bench

Glutes

To stretch the glutes, you can perform what’s called a figure 4 stretch. Place the foot of the leg you want to stretch on your opposite knee while lying on your back. This will help lock the foot in place to create leverage for the stretch. From here, grab behind the knee and pull it towards your chest to stretch the glutes.

Hold this stretch for 60 seconds each side.

Figure 4 Stretch

Pigeon Pose

Erectors

To stretch the lower back muscles, you can perform a child’s pose by sitting on your feet and leaning over your knees to stretch the lower back. Reach your arms as far forward as possible to help elongate the back.

You can also emphasize one side of your lower back by reaching in the opposite direction.

Hold each stretch for 60 seconds each side.

Childs Pose

Exercises

One of the final ways to help improve your hamstring flexibility is by training other muscles that could limit the range of motion within the hamstrings.

Quads

Sometimes you need to release the quad, and sometimes you need to train it to help improve your hamstring flexibility.

Studies show that activating the quads can help improve your hamstring flexibility with Reciprocal Inhibition; It's def something you should think about if nothing else is working.

To train the quads, you can perform leg extensions or sissy squats to put a focus on the quads and not the glutes or hamstrings.

Sometimes the hamstring isn’t always tight and shortened but instead, it's tight and lengthened, which means it's already stretched out to its limit.

If this is happening, you need to release other muscles within the body (like the ones we just did) and train a few selected ones like the ones below.

Training the muscles below can help improve things like your pelvis positioning and stability in other areas, allowing the hamstrings to stretch out the way they are supposed to.

Sissy Squats

Glutes

The first muscle you want to train is the glutes. The idea behind firing up the glutes is to help level out the pelvis, giving the hamstrings some wiggle room to stretch out.

Otherwise, your pelvis may be tilted forward, which will cause the hamstrings to get lengthened out.

To train the glutes, you can perform any kind of exercise you would like, just try to keep it to an isolated exercise. This means you are only training the glutes and not the other muscles around them, like the hamstrings.

An example of an isolated exercise (or mostly isolated) would be clam shells.

Pick whatever glute exercise you like and perform 40-60 reps, taking as many breaks as you need.

Clam Shells

Side Lying Hip Abduction

Core

Another muscle that will help level out your pelvis is the core muscles. It does this the same way the glutes does, except now it's on the front of the body instead of the back.

Once again, you can perform any kind of core exercise you want. If you would like my recommendation, I suggest performing a core crunch with your knees in the air.

Lay on your back with your arms and knees bent in the air. From here, you’re going to move both your upper body and your lower body towards the ceiling at the same time while you also pull your core down to the floor.

Hold this position for 1-2 seconds before you return back to your starting position and repeat for another 40-60 reps, taking as many breaks as you need.

Core Crunch

How to Tackle Tight Hamstrings

Below is my recommendation for improving your hamstring flexibility as fast as possible. This doesn’t mean it will work for everyone, but it should give most of you a strong head start. If not, the complete solution if all you have ever done is to try stretching the muscles out.

Solution #1 - Improve your Hamstring Flexibility without Stretches

Solution #2 - Following the Routine From the Article

Don’t forget to work both sides of the body and perform this routine 3-5 times a week.

Self Massage

  1. Bottom of Foot - 1-2 minutes
  2. Calf Muscle - 2-3 minutes
  3. Hamstring - 3-4 minutes
  4. Quads - 2-3 minutes
  5. Glutes - 1-2 minutes
  6. Erectors - 2-3 minutes

Stretch

  1. Foot and Calf Combo - 1 minute
  2. Hamstring Stretch - 1 minute
  3. Glute Stretch - 1 minute
  4. Erector Stretch - 1 minute

Exercise

  1. Glutes - 40-60 reps
  2. Core - 40 - 60 reps

If you have any recommendations for other ways to improve your hamstring flexibility, please let me know in the comment section below!

About the Author Adam

Adam is the owner of Train and Massage and has earned multiple certifications including Human Movement Specialist, Certified Massage Therapist, Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, and More.

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