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7 Hamstring Stretches That Relieve Tension

  • Hamstring Slider

    If you have to rush to work from a difficult class and miss the post-workout cooldown, this hamstring stretch is easy to do from the comfort of your office space, using only your chair.

    • Sit fully back in your chair and extend your left leg parallel to the floor.
    • Place your hands on your knee and inhale.
    • As you exhale, round your back and slowly slide your hands toward your foot as far as you can.
    • Hold for one breath and slowly release back to starting position.
    • Repeat on the other leg. Continue alternating sides for 1 minute.
    • For a deeper hamstring stretch, keep your back flat instead of rounding it.

    Originally in 8 Yoga Poses You Can Do in Your Desk Chair

  • Hammie Twist

    Many yoga moves are the ultimate mix of strengthening and stretching, like this position that works and stretches your hamstrings, butt, and quads.

    • Stand near top of mat with feet together; hinge forward from hips and touch hands to floor a few inches in front of feet, keeping elbows bent.
    • Lift left leg diagonally behind you toward right.
    • Bending right knee, swing left knee back down behind right leg toward outside of right knee.
    • Extend left leg behind you again as you straighten right leg; repeat.
    • Do 10 reps, switch sides and repeat. Do 3 sets.
    • MAKE IT HARDER: Touch left knee to right ankle.

    Originally in The Yoga Booty Workout

  • Hamstring TLC With a Twist

    This modified lunge is a great way to loosen up those tight hamstrings.

    • Stand with feet together, arms by sides.
    • Lunge back with left leg, keeping leg straight and heel off floor; bend right knee 90 degrees and place hands on floor on either side of right foot. Hold for 3 counts.
    • Straighten right leg and hold for 3 counts. Return to lunge for 3 counts.

    Originally in The Relaxing Yoga and Dance Workout

  • Butterfly

    Spread your wings and let your muscles free with this simple, equipment-free stretch.

    • Stand with your feet wide apart and your arms outstretched parallel to the ground.
    • As you squat down, cross your arms.
    • When you come up from your squat, extend your legs so you are on your tiptoes. Cross your arms above your head. This should look like a slow jumping jack.
    • Repeat 16 times. Do 2 sets.

    Originally in From Flab to Fab

  • Open-Air Stretch

    This stretch is especially useful for runners, who tend to overexert their leg muscles without letting them cool down.

    • Lying down on your back, loop a towel around the ball of your foot and stretch the leg straight up.
    • Keep both knees straight, with the opposite leg flat on the surface.
    • Relax your ankle to stretch the calf and hamstring.
    • Hold for 1 minute and repeat with the opposite leg

    Originally in Stretches for Runners

  • The Single-Leg Circle

    This classic Pilates move is more challenging than it looks.

    • Lie back on the mat with your arms by your sides and your palms facing down.
    • Begin by pointing with your left foot, as if reaching out with your toes toward the ceiling, and rotate your leg slightly outward.
    • Inhale, and trace a circle on the ceiling with your left leg, moving your whole leg but keeping your hips still. Don't lift your left hip off the floor.
    • Trace the circle on the ceiling 5 times in a clockwise direction. Repeat in a counterclockwise direction.
    • Switch legs and repeat 5 times.

    Originally in Our Top 10 Thigh Exercises

  • Bend and Stretch

    This move is like the Elle Woods "bend and snap" but with an added bonus: It'll leave your legs feeling fresh.

    • Get into downward dog position.
    • Bend your knees toward the floor without touching the floor.
    • Return to downward dog position.
    • Do 2 sets of 10 reps, alternating bends and stretches.

    Originally in From Flab to Fab