Tight hamstring muscles are a key factor in many cases of chronic back problems. A fine balance exists between stretching your hamstrings and not aggravating a chronic back condition. For this reason, we recommend keeping one leg bent with the foot on the floor to support your back.
1. Lying on your back with your legs straight, place your arms along your sides with your palms down.
2. Bend just your left knee and put your left foot on the floor as in Figure 22-7a.
3. As you exhale, raise your right leg until it's perpendicular to the floor (or as close as you can manage).
4. As you inhale, return your leg to the floor, keeping your head and the top of your hips on the floor.
Repeat Steps 1 through 4 three to four times, and then hold the back of your raised thigh in place just below your knee for 6 to 8 breaths as in Figure 22-7b.
5. Repeat Steps 1 through 4 on the other side with your right knee bent and your left leg straight.
Make sure you feel the stretch in your hamstrings, not in your back.
If the back of your neck or your throat tenses when you raise or lower your leg, rest your head on a pillow or folded blanket.
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