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Stretch It: Hamstrings

If you have been doing a lot of walking, running, biking or hiking this summer, chances are your hamstrings could use a good stretch. Here's a sequence of stretches to loosen up your tight hamstrings.

Standing Forward Bend with Wrist Release - Place your hands on the mat, palms facing up with your fingertips facing you. Now step your feet onto your palms, pressing your toes into your wrist creases. If you can't reach your palms all the way down, just place your hands on your shins or feet.

Keep your legs straight and if it feels comfortable, you can bring your forehead toward your shins. Stay here for 5 deep breaths, or as long as you want. Then release your hands, press into your feet and return to standing.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend - Now take your legs about 3 ft wide. Keeping your back straight, fold forward at the hips and reach for your big toes. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and think about drawing the crown of your head towards the ground. Work on shifting weight forward into your toes. Stay here for 5 or more breaths.

Want to see the rest of the sequence? Then

Seated Straddle - Now drop your bum down and straighten out both legs in a straddle (or "V") position. Place your hands on the ground in front of you and start to walk them out away from your hips.

Try doing this pose with different distances between your legs - it will change the position of where you feel the stretch. Stay in each for 5 or more breaths.
Seated Forward Bend - Next bring both your legs together so your knees and feet are touching. As you fold forward over your thighs, try to elongate your spine.

Stay for at least 10 breaths (I like to hang out longer) so you can give your muscles enough time to loosen up.
Head to Knee pose - Now keep your left leg straight and bend your right knee. Press the sole of your right foot against your left inner thigh.

Fold over your left leg, trying to keep both shoulders parallel with the ground. Stay for 5 or more deep breaths. Then lift your torso up, straighten out your right leg, bend your left knee, and do the other side.

Fit's Tips: Do these stretches slowly and in a warm room if possible. Since tight hamstrings are prone to injury, make sure to do these stretches before and after you use them. Remember, you want to warm up doing at least 5 minutes of cardio before doing deep or intense stretching.

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mallomar mallomar 9 years
Great stretches, but I have a question- If I can't open my legs very wide at all to do a straddle are there things I can do to loosen up my hips so I can improve my flexibility? (I feel like my hips are very tight and while I have flexibility in my lower back to do forward bends with my head almost touching my legs, I seem to have zero flexibility side to side, which I presume is a hip issue?) Thanks for all the great tips as usual!
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