How to Improve Flexibility of Tight Hamstrings With Yoga

Updated on September 20, 2017
Paschimottanasana or sitting forward bend is an excellent yoga pose for stretching tight hamstrings.
Paschimottanasana or sitting forward bend is an excellent yoga pose for stretching tight hamstrings. | Source

The hamstring muscles are found in the back of your thigh. They are usually neglected in exercise regimens and often people don't realize they have tight hamstrings until their movement is affected or when they begin to suffer knee pain or back pain.

You can tell that your hamstrings are tight by doing the following tests:

Chair Sit and Reach Test:

  • Sit forward on the edge of a chair.
  • Keep left leg bent with foot flat on the floor, right leg extended in front.
  • Keeping back and head aligned straight, reach down the extended leg.
  • Try to touch the toes of the right extended leg with both hands
  • If you cannot reach your toes you have tight hamstrings

Straight Leg Raise:

  • Lie on your back with your legs extended
  • Lift your right leg without bending your knees.
  • If you can lift it up to 70-80 degrees of elevation or up to 90 degrees then your hamstrings are alright.
  • If you can lift up less than 70-80 degrees then you have tight hamstrings.

Alternate Leg Raises - Warm Up

What Are Hamstring Muscles?

The hamstring muscles are made up of a group of three muscles consisting of the semimembranosus, semitendinosus, and bicep femoris. It is a 'postural muscle' and is used to hold an upright posture. It is made up of mostly slow twitch muscle fibres and is designed to contract for long periods without fatiguing. This characteristic makes them prone to shortening over time unless stretched on a regular basis. The hamstrings cross over both the hip and knee joints and so are used in both hip and knee movements.

Our modern lifestyle of sitting long hours at an office desk contributes to the tightness of hamstrings. Sitting maintains our hip muscles in a lengthened state causing them to become weak. This puts extra strain on the hamstrings when standing making them work harder.

Tight hamstrings are also a cause of many back injuries since in most people they become tight through disuse. It is important to consult a doctor so that any serious causes of tight hamstrings can be ruled out such as spondylolithesis, or tumours.

How to Stretch Your Hamstrings - Static Stretch

Dynamic Hamstring Stretch

Yoga for Hamstrings (7.55 mts)

How to Stretch the Hamstrings

There are two ways to stretch the hamstrings using the dynamic or the static stretching exercises. Both methods will increase flexibility. If you are planning to increase the length of your hamstrings for a yoga program, dancing, running hurdles, etc. then static stretching has been found to be most effective. A 30 second static stretch has been found to be more effective than 30 seconds of dynamic stretching, especially done over 6 weeks.

Dynamic stretching is most appropriate as part of a complete warm up before any exercise or yoga program. It can be done as part of the program as well and will help improve flexibility of the hamstrings as well.

  • Static Stretching: is the 'stretch and hold' type of stretching which is safe and is used to increase the range of motion of a joint.
  • Dynamic Stretching: is a combination of strength and flexibility. It 'is the act of taking a muscle to the end of its range and then rather than holding the stretch contracting the muscle that is being stretched.'

Yoga for Tight Hamstrings

Practicing Yoga poses would come under the category of static stretching for loosening and improving the flexibility of the hamstrings. Many of the yoga poses for hips will also help in stretching the hamstrings since these muscles work together in the various movements.

Static stretch is the 'stretch and hold' type of stretching which is the method followed in yoga asana or poses. It is safe and is used to increase the range of motion of a joint or muscle. This type of stretching exercises are just as important to overall fitness as strengthening and endurance exercises. Having flexible hamstrings means less chances of injury during activities like running, jumping, cycling and other sports.

Sitting Forward Bend

Easy Single Leg Bent Knee Forward Bend

Downward Dog for Stretching the Hamstring Muscles

Three Yoga Poses for Hamstring Muscles

These three Yoga poses for improving flexibility of tight hamstrings are ideal to begin with

Sitting Forward Bend – Paschimottanasana

This a good pose for stretching the entire back and hamstring muscles and increases flexibility in the spine and hips.

  • Sit with your spine extended.
  • Lean forward, tipping your pelvis towards your thighs.
  • Bend your knees, and on an inhalation, reach down and hold onto your shin, ankle, or the balls of your feet.
  • Exhale and begin to straighten your legs, bringing your upper body toward your thighs. Your back is straight and spine is lengthened. Knees remain slightly bent.
  • Breathe rhythmically. Do not strain.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Bent Knee Sitting Forward Bend – Mahamudra

This is the easier version of the Sitting Forward Bend (above) which produces similar benefits. It stretches the hamstring muscles and the spinal column. In this case one leg is bent and other stretched out. Instead of leaning forward the arms are raised above the head and then bringing the palms down to reach the ankle or back of the feet.

Downward Dog – Adho Mukhasana

This yoga pose stretches and lengthens the hamstring muscles and Achilles tendons as well as increasing flexibility in the ankles. It is an energizing pose and aligns the spinal column, releases tension in the shoulders, and strengthens the arms and legs.

Yoga poses for the spine, hips, and legs are also beneficial in maintaining overall strength of the muscles of the legs and especially hamstrings.

Do you think you have tight hamstrings that is affecting your movement?

See results

Taking Care of the Hamstrings

It is important to remember "use it or lose it," or in this case "stretch it or lose it." The hamstring muscles have to be stretched regularly and throughout your life because they play a very important role in the overall well-being of the body. Weak or tight hamstrings can cause many injuries while being involved with daily life activities or sport activities. Making sure they are in good condition will help improve performance in sport activities or just in maintaining good posture throughout life.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Sushma Webber profile imageAUTHOR

      Sushma Webber 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

      Hi Kayla, it is true that in the gym they may not specifically do hamstring stretches. It is usually overlooked. It would be a good idea to do it at home because as you grow older, whether you are fat or skinny, those muscles will tighten.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I go gymnastics and we never do them streches an my mum goes gym no stretches their either so you little fiber. Just cause your all fat ,boys doesn't mean I am cause I am skinny and fit.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)