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3 Easy Hamstring Stretches for Beginners

man stretching his leg muscles before a workout
Not only can hamstring stretches aid in muscle recovery, they can help you get the most out of your workouts.

by Catherine Santino

You might think of stretching as the portion of your workout when you can basically take a nap. However, this couldn't be further from the truth! While stretching can be a soothing experience — especially when complementing a tough workout — it's still a critical element of fitness, and deserves the time needed to do it correctly.

The Importance of Stretching Your Hamstrings

Stretching out the muscles in the back of your legs can be particularly helpful. Not only can hamstring stretches aid in muscle recovery, they can help you get the most out of your workouts.

Tight hamstrings are pretty common, especially among beginner gym-goers, and they can really impact the effectiveness of your routine. While having tight hamstrings can be uncomfortable on its own, it can also cause pain in other areas of your body. As noted by Spine-Health, back pain is a common result of tight hamstrings. This is because the pressure in your hamstrings causes your pelvis to tilt, putting pressure on the lower back.

Hamstring Stretches for Beginners

If you're feeling lower back pain or tightness in the back of your legs, try these three simple stretches at the gym. Keep in mind that hamstring stretches (or any stretches) should never be painful — so if something doesn't feel right, don't push yourself.

1. Wall Stretch

Lie back on the floor with your butt against a wall, your legs raised at a 90-degree angle and your feet facing the ceiling. Flex your feet and gently straighten your knees. Let your hips melt into the floor. Hold this stretch for 10-20 seconds, or less time if you begin to feel any pain. Go at your own pace as your get familiar with the stretch.

2. Seated Stretch

Sit at the edge of a chair with your legs straightened out in front of you. Place your heels on the floor and flex your feet. Sit up straight and push your stomach toward your thighs, but resist the urge to move the trunk of your body forward. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat the stretch three times.

3. Modified Hurdler

Sit on the floor and straighten one of your legs out in front of you. Bend the opposite knee, placing the sole of that foot against your outstretched leg's inner thigh. Fold your torso over your leg, making sure to keep your hips facing forward and back straight. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch leg positions.

These hamstring stretches are super easy to incorporate into your gym sessions and can save you from a lot of pain and discomfort in the future. Try doing them before (and after) your next workout, and see what a difference they can make!

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.