Join Jennifer Dixon ERYT 500 and Authorized Ashtanga Yoga Teacher and Expert Certified Personal Trainer for a quick tip on how you can increase the flexibility in your hamstrings during your yoga practice, or during any deep forward fold you may do before or after a workout.
Static stretches should come after your workout
Do keep in mind, if you are about to do a stringent lifting workout or any exercise that will require a lot of your hamstrings, you may not want to do deep static stretches. The reason you may not want to do the deep stretching first is because, like in weight lifting, studies have proven that long deep static stretches can cause micro tears to your muscle fibers and cause you to lose some muscle capacity (temporarily!) So, save the deep static holds for AFTER your workout.
Oftentimes, hamstrings are a tough nut to crack because they can be very very tight! The chronic tightness is due to a LOT of different variables like activity levels –lots of power sports like tennis and sprinting require the hamstrings to do a bunch of work, but also because you and I live in a world of pro-level sitters.
Sitting causes tight hamstrings
That’s right, sitting can cause tight hamstrings. When we sit too much, the glutes basically “go to sleep” which causes a bunch of other muscular shifts, but the one we want to focus on here is the glutes going to sleep, requiring the hamstrings to pick up the work. The solution then, is to focus on hamstring mobility, and glute strengthening. Today’s post is about one yoga trick you can do to improve your hamstring mobility in forward folds.
Remember, the hamstrings are actually made up of three muscles, so these guys pick up the slack from the glutes (or are over worked) and they become super, super tight. To add insult to injury, the tightness in hamstrings makes them prone to injuries like tears. Tf=his makes focusing on hamstring flexibility very important in your overall health and wellness journey.
When you set yourself up for any posture or stretch where you are working on stretching your hamstrings in a seated forward folding position, put a rolled up blanket under your knee. You want that blanket where it can be felt under the back part of your knee. You should feel supported but not impeded from extension.
The secret to a meaningful, body changing stretch is to not push it too far.
If you stretch to the point of being unable to breathe, how on earth will your body know it’s safe to relax because it’s too busy freaking out as to whether or not it’s gonna survive the lack of oxygen!
In all seriousness, maintaining a natural breath during this stretch (or any stretch) will help your body to relax and come into deeper, lasting change. With the support of a blanket (or bolster if your hammies are really tight), your body may experience deeper relaxation and you just may see those flexibility gains you were hoping for. Go ahead and give this a shot and let me know what you think!