As many of you will know I have found Stretch Therapy’s approach to stretching quite transformational for me personally.
Stretch Therapy has a couple of series for hip and shoulder mobility that are worth about 10x the 10 or so USD they cost to download (https://vimeo.com/kitlaughlin/vod_pages), there’s also a ton of material on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/user/KitLaughlin) and the website and forum (Kit Laughlin Stretch Therapy Forums).
I’ve had a couple of queries from people recently who wanted more flexible hamstrings specifically, so I put together a pick’n’mix selection focussed on just that. The vimeo links are for on-demand videos that cost about 2 USD each, but again worth every penny. The youtube ones are free.
Is it really hamstrings? Hamstrings will have to take up the slack if the muscles upstream and downstream are tight. The posterior chain runs from the soles of your feet to the top of your head.
Single Leg Dog Pose. https://vimeo.com/117398275 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Az5h5G6BLm4
This exercise is hard work at first but really great, and will give you a real feel for what really is tight (ankles, calves, hamstring, glutes). Don’t be afraid to start with hands well elevated (eg even 24” box) and if you don’t have ladder bars just hook the free foot around your ankle or use another box to rest it on.
Great stretches just for the hamstrings:
Daily Limbering. Elephant Walk. https://vimeo.com/111655899
Bent Leg Stretch https://vimeo.com/111655907 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrF2iMnn09w
Straight Leg Stretch https://vimeo.com/111674498
Hip Flexors and Quads
If your hip flexors and quads are tight, the hamstrings have to be tight to compensate and will end up short. If you are sitting as much as we all do your hip flexors are proabably in serious need of some attention. In fact if you only have time for one exercise just do the hip flexor ones and forget about your hamstrings for a bit.
Quads https://vimeo.com/106095112 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7nV-kiGhsQ
Solo Hip Flexor. https://vimeo.com/106095113 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bWQGIm9raw
Partner Hip Flexor. Looks a bit crazy but fantastically effective and a good way to make new friends. https://vimeo.com/106095114
Daily Limbering. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOiLJnuuKMM
Feet https://vimeo.com/111655907 in addition I recommend massaging the soles of the feet by standing on a lacrosse ball or similar.
Piriformis https://vimeo.com/98163303 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idJdXbVUjNI
I terms of reps and sets… ideally spend about an hour once a week and preferably after exercise, doing intense versions of these stretches spending several minutes per side and exploring new range of motion. You can use more gentle “limbering” variations of these as part of your warm up. Go with the flow, focus on what seems tightest on the day. Try and tune into the sensations. Good luck.