Hamstring Flexibility

Short hamstrings are common in a lot of patients who walk through our clinic door. Most of the time, however, what brings them to the clinic in the first place is not a problem with their hamstring region, but more likely low back pain; hip pain; or other lower limb symptoms.

The hamstrings are a group of muscles at the back of the thigh that extend the hip and bend the knee. They can become shortened over time when placed in sustained positions, such as sitting, or when overused during exercise and not properly managed during recovery. This shortening results in a reduced range of movement into hip flexion and knee extension, particularly when these movements are combined.

If hamstrings are shortened, they can pull the pelvis into a posteriorly tilted position and can subsequently flatten the lumbar spine. This results in dysfunction of the lower back muscles, as they become less effective in their role to support or move the lower back. This dysfunction can create low back pain or other symptoms.

How do you know if your hamstrings are short?

Is your lack of hamstring flexibility the real reason for your low back pain?

How can you manage your poor hamstring flexibility?


Try the following home stretching program over an 8-week period to improve your hamstring flexibility.

Hamstring Stretching Program




Regular stretching of the hamstrings can help to lengthen them; correct the position of the pelvis; and assist with the reduction of lower back pain.

Three examples of hamstring stretches are:

Static Standing:

  • Maintain neutral lumbar spine

  • Avoid torso rotation

  • Find point of stretch, not pain

  • Hold 30 seconds; 3 repetitions each leg; 3 x per week

Static Supine with Towel:

  • Place towel around heel, not over ball of foot

  • Find point of stretch, not pain

  • Hold 30 seconds; 3 repetitions each leg; 3 x per week

Dynamic Supine:

  • Maintain neutral pelvis position; neutral lumbar curve

  • Hold thigh in vertical position

  • Find point of stretch, not pain

  • 6 repetitions x 5 seconds active hold + 5 seconds relax; 3 rounds; 3 x per week

To ensure correct diagnosis and appropriate management, book an appointment with one of our physios to assess your pain and develop a suitable treatment plan, including any appropriate home exercises or stretches.

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