Stretches for the Back of the Knee

The posterior cruciate ligament is a strong cord of tissue that connects the femur to the tibia. This ligament is behind the knee. Stretches can help keep it flexible and prevent injury. Stretches lengthen the hamstrings, which run down the back of the thighs to the knee area.

A woman in downward facing dog pose on the beach. (Image: Emastar/iStock/Getty Images)

Forward Bend

The Standing Forward Bend is a yoga exercise that stretches the back knee and thigh areas. Stand with your feet together and arms above your head. Move your arms down in a sweeping motion as you simultaneously bend forward at the hips. Keep your legs straight and try to keep your back as straight as possible. If you are able to place your hands on the floor, then do so. Otherwise, grab your ankles or the lowest point on your legs possible and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

Seated Strap Stretch

A seated strap stretch is performed on the floor with your legs in front of your body. The strap used in this stretch can be a tie, towel or any other flexible material of equivalent length. Extend your legs straight, grip the ends of the strap and wrap the center of the strap around your feet. Steadily pull back until you feel a stretch on the back of your knees. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and slowly release. You can also do this stretch lying on your back. In this case, stretch one leg at a time and extend it in the air.

Seated Straddle with Side Reach

The seated saddle with side reach stretches the back of the knees and hamstrings with your legs spread into a "V" shape. After moving your legs out as far as possible, maintain a straight back and lower your torso toward your right foot. Reach out as you do this and try to grab your foot. Once you have gone as far as possible, hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Slowly rise and repeat on your left side.

Downward-Facing Dog

A Downward-Facing Dog stretches behind the knees, the hamstrings and the calves at the same time. Lie on your stomach with your hands about shoulder-width apart and feet at hip-width. Steadily push yourself off the floor and raise your hips in the air. If you stop when your body forms a straight line, you will be in a plank pose, which is the starting point of a pushup. To do the Downward-Facing Dog, continue to raise your hips and leverage your weight back toward your heels. Once your body forms an inverted angle, hold for 30 to 45 seconds and slowly release. The goal is to get your feet as flat on the floor as possible while maintaining straight arms, straight legs and a straight back.

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