How to Loosen Up Your Tight Hamstrings

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Make your next leg day way easier with looser limbs.

Run, walk, bend, lift, repeat. All of these common daily activities can become more difficult and less comfortable when your hips, back, or legs feel tight and stiff. You’ve got two options: live with the discomfort or do something about it.

Tight hamstrings are often to blame. Maybe you feel tension behind the legs when you bend down to try and touch your toes or maybe it’s uncomfortable to simply sit on the floor. The hamstrings connect to the pelvis which connects to the lumbar spine (lower back), so tight hamstrings can also contribute to other aches and pains such as low back pain.

Why do the hamstrings get tight in the first place? Let’s start with understanding your body’s anatomy. The hamstrings are a group of muscles that line the back of the thigh. They include: the semimembranosus, semitendinosus, and the long and short heads of the biceps femoris muscles.

These muscles originate from the ischial tuberosity (your sit bones), and attach to the bones of the lower leg just behind the knee area. The hamstrings are big muscles that cross two joints—the knee and the hip. They act to bend the knee and extend the hip. In order to properly stretch them, you’ll need to extend the knee and flex the hip at the same time.

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