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Athletes aren't the only ones who can benefit from flexible leg muscles. Seniors can, too! Seniors are particularly vulnerable to a lack of flexibility in the hamstrings -- the muscles in the back of your legs, above the knees. Hamstring tightness can affect everyday activities such as walking, standing and bending over. So if your hamstrings feel tight, read on to find out how to stretch them safely to improve your overall mobility.
Sit on the side of an exercise bench or similar surface (like a sturdy couch) with both feet on the floor.
Turn to the left and raise your left leg onto the bench or couch. Extend it straight in front of you and sit straight so that your upper body and leg make an "L."
Reach your arms toward your extended foot and lean forward slowly. Lean as far as you can comfortably. You should feel the stretch in the back of your raised leg.
Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds then put both feet back on the floor and repeat on your right side with your right leg. Stretch each leg three to five times each week. Notice how you can stretch farther forward as your flexibility increases.
Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Step forward with your left leg, keeping your knee straight, and lift your left toes upward so only your heel is touching the floor. Your right leg should be slightly bent at the knee.
Lean forward with your body -- chest out -- and stop when you feel the stretch in your hamstrings and calf (the back leg muscle between your knee and ankle). You can place your hands on the top of your left thigh for support.
Hold the stretch for 10 to 20 seconds, then repeat the exercise with your right leg forward. Perform the stretch three to five times per week.
- Breathe normally while stretching. Don't hold your breath!
- If the sitting stretch is too easy for you, try holding both ends of a towel, looping it under the arch of your raised foot and pulling your body forward.
- When doing the standing stretch, you can hold onto a chair or other sturdy object for added balance if necessary.