2 Seated Hamstring Stretches In Chair (Workout for the Legs)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: January 27, 2024
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The seated hamstring stretch is one of the easiest ways for people to prepare their legs for all kinds of workouts.

The reason I often recommend it over the standing variation is that it allows you to focus on the stretch and not on trying to balance.

But our physical therapist also highlighted a few other benefits and some simple mistakes people make when stretching their hamstrings.

It’s not just about keeping that knee straight.

So, I’ve put together these instructions to help our readers better prepare for training sessions at the gym.

Quick Summary

  • The seated hamstring stretch is a simple way to focus only on the stretching without having to maintain balance.
  • People often find one leg is less flexible than the other, and the seated hamstring stretch will allow you to balance that out.
  • According to Medical News Today, tight hamstrings can indirectly affect your posture and lower spine alignment.
  • You can do this stretch on a chair or the floor, with both hamstring stretch versions focusing on one leg at a time.

How Do You Loosen Hamstrings While Sitting?

A woman stretches her hamstrings while sitting in a chair

The best way to loosen hamstrings while sitting is with a simple stretching routine.

The easiest way to do this is to lean forward and keep the knee straight in one leg.

This kind of seated hamstring stretch is ideal if you want to just focus on the stretching movement without having to try and maintain your balance.

I have also found that it allows you to easily target one leg at a time.

If you’re one of my personal fitness clients, then you’ve probably done this stretch before you do squats or any other kind of leg workout.

Best Hamstring Stretches

Here are two seated versions of the hamstring stretch that you can do at home or at the gym:

1. Chair Hamstring Stretch

A woman doing a chair hamstring stretch

Let’s start with the simple seated hamstring stretch using a chair or bench.

Here are the instructions:

  • Sit on the chair with one knee straight and the other one bent.
  • Slowly lean forward and reach for the foot on the straight leg.
  • Feel a gentle stretch in your hamstring and hold it for 10 to 15 seconds; you should not feel this in the opposite leg.
  • Release the stretch and lean forward a bit further before you turn your attention to the opposite leg.
  • Go back to the starting position and release the tension in the thigh muscles.
  • Now, stretch out the opposite leg and repeat the process.

2. Seated Floor Hamstring Stretch

This version of the seated hamstring stretch involves sitting on an exercise mat rather than a chair.

Here are the instructions:

  • Sit on the floor with both legs straight and your upper body upright.
  • Raise one knee off the ground and keep the other knee straight with toes pointing to the ceiling.
  • Lean forward and reach for the toes on the straight leg until you feel a gentle stretch in your muscles.
  • Hold it for 10 to 15 seconds, and then slowly release it back to the starting point.
  • Now, lean forward again and increase the stretch a bit further before moving onto the opposite leg.
  • Go back to the starting point and do the same routine on the other leg.

When you do these on a regular basis, you’ll find you gain more range of motion with your leg muscles and joints.

Key Benefits 

A woman stretching her hamstrings

Here are the main benefits of doing a regular hamstring stretch.

1. Reduced Risk of Injuries

Stretching your legs before a workout should be part of your warm-up routine. It may be a great way to activate muscles and improve range of motion without stressing the leg muscles and joints.

Just don’t overdo the stretching, and keep each muscle stretch to a maximum of about 15 seconds.

2. Improved Flexibility

A woman stretching her legs outside

When your leg muscles and joints are less tense, you’ll find you have more flexibility for exercises.

From being able to get lower down during squats to better performance during hamstring curls, this could make a big difference.

For improved flexibility, hold the stretch for about 30 to 90 seconds [1].

3. Better Posture

According to Medical News Today, tight hamstrings can indirectly affect your posture and lower spine alignment [2].

And if you spend a lot of time sitting down, that can result in back pain.

“When the hamstrings are too tight, the muscles rotate the pelvis backward. This can flatten the natural arch in the back, which can cause poor seated and standing posture.”

- Amy Elizabeth Wolkin, PT

FAQs

How Should You Sit For Tight Hamstrings?

You should aim to sit with straight legs for tight hamstring leg muscles. This will naturally stretch the muscles, but you can intensify the hamstring stretch by slightly leaning forward and repeating it a few times a day.

How Long Does It Take To Loosen Tight Hamstrings?

It can take two weeks to loosen tight hamstrings. The more often you do a hamstring stretch each day, the sooner you’ll feel the effect. If you spend a lot of time at a desk, then there’s no reason why you couldn’t do these stretches a few times a day.


References:

  1. https://www.bu.edu/articles/2015/stretch-before-exercise-not-so-fast/
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323703
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