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7 Hamstring Stretches That Relieve Tension
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
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
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
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