The hamstring is a group of three muscles that sit behind the upper thigh and knee. Sitting at a desk or in a car for long periods can make these muscles tight, which limits motion in the pelvis. Stretching the hamstrings allows the pelvis to move more freely, providing benefits such as better posture and less stress in the lower back.
The forward fold is a common hamstring stretching technique. Stand with your feet hip distance apart and bend forward at the waist with your arms dangling toward the floor and your hands reaching toward your toes. It's not important if your fingers touch your toes; you just want to bend forward until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Keep your legs straight, but do not lock your knees. A very slight bend to the knees will help protect your joints during the stretch. Hold the stretch 30 to 60 seconds.
You can stretch your hamstrings by placing one leg in front of you on a table or staircase step. Lean forward slowly, without rounding your back to try and get down farther. Move your foot slowly from side to side in a windshield wiper like motion, and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat with each leg several times. If you feel a sharp pain, ease out of the pose. You should feel a little discomfort while stretching, but pain means you have gone too far.
To stretch with the wall, lie flat on your back on the floor near the corner of the wall or a door frame. With your knee slightly bent, raise your leg and put your heel down against the wall. Your other leg should be straight out in front of you resting on the floor. Gradually straighten your bent leg until you feel a stretch in your upper back leg. Hold the stretch about 30 seconds, then switch legs. You can increase the stretch by moving closer to the wall.
This is a simple stretch that can be done using a towel or a yoga strap. Lie on your back with your legs straight ahead of you. Bring your knee up toward your chest and place your foot in the middle of a towel or strap. Hold onto the ends of the towel or strap and straighten your leg so it is perpendicular to the floor. Keep your shoulders flat on the floor and do not strain your neck forward. Repeat with the other side. Stretch for 30 to 60 seconds.