Tight hamstrings? If you're a runner or endurance athlete, the answer is yes. If you are active, but also sit for long periods of time for work, the answer is also yes. If genetically, you've always had an issue with flexibility, then the answer is, of course, yes.
The role of the hamstrings in the human movement pattern is to bend the knees and extend the hips. This means every step or stride we take, every time we lift something off the ground, the hamstrings do the work. Given the importance of these types of movements for athletes, hamstring flexibility is critical for optimal performance.
That's where these yoga poses come in.
Yoga is a great way to safely and gradually relieve tightness in the hamstrings. The combination of relaxed breath, alignment of the pose and time spent stretching makes yoga a perfect prescription for hamstring tightness.
Follow these guidelines for each pose below and you'll be touching your toes in no time:
- Start by slowly breathing in and out through the nose. Keep the breath flowing through the whole stretch.
- Stay in each pose for up to a minute.
- Perform the poses in the order below, as each builds on the previous.
- Once you feel a stretch, stop. Don’t try to force yourself deeper into the pose. You could end up over-stretching and hurting yourself.
Standing Forward Fold1 of 8
Start by standing with your feet together. Gently fold forward at your hips and reach toward your toes. Keep a soft bend in your knees as you stick your tailbone up.
Pyramid2 of 8
Start in a standing position. Step your left foot forward so there is about three feet of space between your front and back foot. Point your left toes forward and your right toes out. Square your hips and fold. Reach for your left shin or, if you can, either side of your left foot.
Wide Leg Forward Fold3 of 8
Starting in pyramid, walk your hands between your feet. Turn your feet in slightly. Bring your weight toward the balls of your feet (but keep the heels down) and stick your tailbone up.
Half Split4 of 8
Start by kneeling. Extend your left leg forward. Square your hips and fold forward. Reach for the left shin or place your hands on either side of the left leg. Extend your chest forward and then down.
Reclined Hamstring Stretch5 of 8
Start on your back. Using a strap or band, wrap it around the arch of your right foot. Extend your right leg up. Hold on to the strap so that your arms are long and your shoulders are soft. Drive your right heel up as you draw your right shin closer toward your torso.
Reclined Inner Groin Stretch6 of 8
Start on your back. Using a strap or band, wrap it around the arch of your right foot. Extend your right leg up. Hold on to the strap with the right hand and draw your leg over to the right.
Legs Up the Wall7 of 8
Start on your back. Extend your legs up against a wall. Get your butt as close to the wall as possible without letting your lower back lift off the ground. Legs should be straight and the spine should be flat.