Running and crazy-tight hamstrings seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Hop on your mat after a run and do this short yoga sequence. It not only targets the backs of the legs, but also increases flexibility in the lower back and hips—opening those areas also helps to decrease tightness in the hamstrings.
There are a lot of ways to end up with hamstring tightness. Sometimes it just comes down to anatomy. Regular stretching, even beginning in childhood with activities like dance and gymnastics, helps, but most people don’t do enough to maintain their flexibility.
By the time adulthood rolls around, you’re doing a lot more sitting which can lead to hamstring tightness. And even if you exercise regularly, some exercises like running engage the hamstrings in a way that can cause them to become tight if they are not stretched. Specific yoga poses targeting the leg muscles can alleviate tightness and improve flexibility.
- Take your bottom shin forward, parallel to your torso, and take your top ankle on top of your bottom knee.
- Use your hands to encourage your top knee down, towards the bottom ankle.
- You might get nowhere near, but as long as you can feel it, perfect.
- A more accessible option would be to sit on the edge of a block and actually lean slightly back, with your hands behind you.
Foot and Ankle Release:
- In any comfortable position, use your hands to mobilise your ankles and stretch out your toes, if possible spacing your toes out with your ﬁngers.
- Aim to get as much movement in these areas as possible, in every direction.
Legs in the Air:
- After hours on your feet, ﬂuids of all sorts will have built up in your legs and the simple action of inverting will fast forward the process of things recirculating.
- For an extra hamstring stretch you can have your legs up a wall, but for something more passive, popping your sacrum on a comfortable object can aid relaxation.
- Enjoy letting your breath slow down, your mind calm and spine decompress.
- Hip ﬂexors are tight and the psoas is the biggest player in this family of muscles.
- The key to this stretch is to hug one knee to the chest and let the other leg straighten and go as low as possible, stretching the psoas on that side.
- Using a block can work (as per the photo), but you can also do it on the side of bed or pavement.
- The lower that straight leg can go, the better.
- You’ve probably seen this wonderful hamstring stretch.
- Sit on the edge of an object to help your pelvis tilt forward, then use your arms to draw your chest forward, without overtly rounding the back.
- Flex your foot to get some extra intensity in the calf stretch.