6 exercises to help tight hamstrings

Contrary to popular belief, stretching won’t necessarily improve hamstring flexibility and restore range of motion. If poor alignment is to blame, your hamstrings are already in an overextended position and stretching can be counterproductive, says high-performance coach Mike Robertson. The first step in finding relief, he says, is to work towards achieving proper pelvic positioning, which will alleviate tension down the back of your thighs. The second step is to strengthen your hamstrings so they can help you maintain that good alignment – while sitting, walking or running. Robertson recommends the following two-day workout. Do the warm-up moves to help you first achieve good pelvic positioning. Then do the first two strength moves on one day and the second two on another day. If you run two or three times per week, do these workouts on your rest days. If you’re running more regularly than that, do them after you run.

All fours belly lift

Get on your hands and knees, palms flat on the ground beneath your shoulders. Exhale and round your back towards the ceiling. Keeping your back curved, take 4-5 breaths, then relax. That's one rep. Do 5 reps.

90-90 hip lift

From the position above, exhale. Lift your pelvis so your lower back flattens. Maintain that as you breathe in, then out fully. Hold the end of the exhale for 3-5 secs. Take 5 breaths; hold the exhale on each. Repeat 5 times.

Deadlift

Holding dumbbells, hinge at the hips by pushing your glutes back and lower the weights in front of your legs. Lower as far as flexibility allows, then push with your hips and thighs to return to start position. Do 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Stability ball leg curls

Lie on the floor with your heels on top of a stability ball. Lift your pelvis so that your body forms a straight line from head to heels; exhale, then use your heels to roll the ball towards your glutes. Do 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Single-leg deadlift

Hold a dumbbell in your left hand. Hinge at the hips to lift your left leg out behind you as you lower the weight down. Return to standing. Do 3 sets of 8-10 reps on each side.

Nordic hamstrings

Kneel with your feet secured. Exhale and lower your torso to the floor. Keep the movement slow for as long as you can. When you start to accelerate, place your hands in front of you. Press through your hands to push back up. Do 3 sets of 3-5 reps.