Hamstring flexibility is often lacking in many clients, especially adolescent males and runners. While there is often soft tissue tightness present, limited hip flexormobility also contributes to the often larger issue of poor hip disassociation. One method I like to utilize to improve hamstring mobility and hip mobility is active isolated stretching.

Begin in a supine position with both legsflat on the floor. Place a rope orstretching strap over the ball of the right foot. Next, pressing the left heel into the floor,slowly pull the right leg up toward you with the rope or strap whilesimultaneously actively contracting the quadriceps muscle to extend the knee.

Pull the leg up until a good stretch is felt in thehamstrings. Pause for 2-3 seconds andthen return to the start position. Besure to avoid letting the left foot (down leg) turn outward to achieve more hipflexion on the right leg.  Perform 10repetitions and then switch sides.



This exercise is an excellent way to increase hipdisassociation and more specifically hamstring flexibility. Foam rolling and/or myofascial compressiontherapy prior to stretching may further enhance range of motion. I routinely incorporate this exercise withrunners and clients struggling with tendonitis, IT band issues andpatellofemoral pain.

Keep in mind that maximally dorsiflexing the foot willincrease dural tension and place more stretch across the back of the knee. So, relaxing the foot (or placing thestrap/rope more along the mid foot) will reduce this tension and allow for amore concentrated stretch in the hamstring. For clients with a history of sciatica, I would suggest avoiding thestretch with the foot in full dorsiflexion as a general precaution.

Brian Schiff,
PT, OCS, CSCS, is a licensed physical therapist, respected author and fitness professional. Currently, he serves as the supervisor for Athletes' Performance at Raleigh Orthopaedic in Raleigh, NC. Brian conducts live continuing education webinars and presents nationally at professional conferences and seminars on injury prevention, rehab and sport-specific training. For more information on his products and services, visit


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