Standing stretch with foot on chair

If getting on the ground is uncomfortable or inconvenient for you, try out this hamstring stretch. You can use a chair or bench or even a fence if you've just finished running outdoors. Just make sure that where you place your foot is no higher than your hips.

To do this stretch, follow these steps:

1. Stand up straight with your feet flat on the floor and your abdominals lifted.

2. Lift your right leg and rest it on a chair or bench straight in front of you.

Keep your hips squared to the front and both legs straight (see Figure 7-7a).

3. Inhale and as you exhale, lean forward from your hips and feel the stretch deepen in the back of your thigh (see Figure 7-7b).

Avoid rounding or bending your back.

4. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds or four to five slow, deep breaths.

5. Repeat this stretch on the other leg.

Figure 7-7:

Stretching your hamstrings in a more comfortable position.

Figure 7-7:

Stretching your hamstrings in a more comfortable position.

One trick I use to get a muscle group to relax is to contract the opposing muscle group. Try contracting your quadriceps (the muscles in the front of your thigh) while you stretch your hamstrings (the back of your thigh). This can help relax your hamstrings while you hold this stretch, and if your hamstrings are relaxed you get a deeper stretch.

A few do's and don'ts for this stretch:

1 Do breathe as you hold the stretch. 1 Do progress through the stretch gradually. 1 Do tilt your pelvis back, not under.

1 Don't round or bend at your waist; hinge at the hips and keep your back straight.

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