Instant hamstring relief!
It’s the grabbing pain in the back of your leg, the extreme tightness that pulls at your back when you bend over, the restriction that keeps you from doing what you love, be it running, walking, Zumba or even yoga; maybe you find yourself sitting the majority of the day and your backside is calling for help.
Hamstring tightness and restriction is something I hear about from students on a daily basis. Static postures (holding a pose for an extended period of time) when it comes to the hamstrings isn’t always the best approach, and postures that require you to sit on your restriction don’t always come easy, especially for those of us who are tight in the backside. As a functional yoga teacher, I am continuously looking at the body and our movements and asking if there is a better way. The answer: yes!
Many are familiar with the posture Standing Head to Knee or what some call Pyramid Pose, but for many this pose just brings up a whirlwind of restriction and misalignment, not to mention fear at the knee joint. But when you take the stress out of this pose and move more dynamically in the body, the hamstrings feel instant relief.
Dynamic hamstring stretch
- From a standing position, take a casual (not a big) step back with your right foot. Look to align both of your feet to face forward (double check that the back foot is not turned out) and parallel.
- Ground actively through the front foot: at the ball of the foot behind the big toe, behind the pinky toe and also at the inner heel of the foot.
- Bringing your hands to your hips, square your hips to face forward.
- Keeping your front foot anchored, exhale and bend the back knee (don’t lift the heel) and fold the torso half way forward.
- As you hinge at the hips, be mindful to keep the front foot anchored. Using your hands at your hip folds, actively assist the left hip (the hip of the front leg) to draw back as you fold forward. Note that the tighter your hips and hamstrings are, the more crooked your hips will want to pull. Focus on squaring them rather than forcing your body into the fold; allow the fold to follow the squaring.
- Inhale as you rise, working to keep balance.
- Repeat this mindfully in repetition (this does not mean quickly) 10 times on each side. If you have discovered that one side is tighter or has more restriction, repeat that side an additional time for a 2-to-1 ratio approach.
This is a great runner’s aid and relief as well as a yoga warm up for all those intense hamstring and hip openers that seem so impossible. But if you are an average Joe just looking for relief from your computer chair, take three minutes for a little backside rehab and your body will be thanking you instantly.
Say hello to happy hamstrings!