Running...Strength Training...Sitting for long periods of time...and overall inflexibility causes tight hamstrings. The hamstrings NEVER lie and these big ass muscles are VERY crucial for our daily movements, so it is important to make sure that you to take the time to stretch them.
Let’s be real and state the obvious, that many of us do not take the time to stretch. I will be the first to admit this and I have admitted it MANY times. That is why I make time to incorporate yoga into my training schedule EVERY week. It honestly the only way that I can disconnect...slow down...breathe deeply...let shit go...and yes STRETCH.
If you cannot make it to a yoga class, then I highly recommend you take some time after your workout or your long day of work to do as many of these poses as your schedule allows. Grab your mat; put on some music; get in the zone to stretch. I promise you will feel better...Pinky swear!
Some tips to remember:
- Hold each pose for up to 1-minute;
- Try to do each pose 2 - 3 times;
- Listen to your body...Remember to breathe...And take your time with getting into the pose and holding the pose...Do not get frustrated...Enjoy and embrace the pose!
- Use props if are unable to touch the ground in certain poses. Yoga blocks can be your best friend!
- Make sure that your front foot is aligned with your back arch;
- Square your hips to the ground;
- Reach for the ground and allow your upper body to fall over your front knee;
- Fold forward as much as your body will allow you and HOLD!
Head to Knee Forward Bend:
- Bring one foot into your groin, while the other goes straight in front;
- Keep the front leg straight and reach for your foot;
- As you reach as far as your body will allow you, let your head relax and fall off the straight leg;
- I like to cross my wrists and pull myself towards my foot to get real deep into the hamstring;
- Hold, breathe, and try to relax!
Big Toe Pose: L O V E this one!!!
- Stand straight up with your feet hip-width distance apart;
- Slowly fold forward and grab your big toes with your thumbs and peace fingers;
- Pull your toes toward your face; bend your elbows to the side; and bring your chest towards thighs as far as your body will allow you;
- This pose will let you know how tight those hamstrings are, so be patient with your body and this pose...Remember to breathe and move into it slowly!
- If there is one pose you should do every day...this is THE ONE! It is one of my favorites for stretching my hamstrings; opening my heart and shoulders; improving and strengthening both my balance and core. YEP, it works all that stuff!
- Make sure your front foot aligns with your back arch and your feet are spread wide. An easy way to get into this posture is from Warrior II;
- Slowly hinge your body forward and bring your front hand as close to the ground as possible;
- Keep your hips and chest open and facing forward;
- Keep your legs and core engaged...Do not get lazy in this pose...Feel that hamstring burn;
- You can use a block for support if you cannot reach the ground and you can grab your big toe for a different variation.
Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose:
- Lay on your back and take a moment to breathe and enjoy that time laying down;
- If you don’t have a yoga strap, you can always use a towel, jump rope, etc.;
- Keep your spine glued to the mat; one leg straight and on the ground; and bring the opposite leg up. If you cannot grab your foot, use your prop.
- Try to keep the lifted leg as straight as possible, while slowly bringing closer to your nose;
- Hold...breathe...let your body settle into the stretch!
Let me know which ones you start adding to your daily stretching sessions...Like I said up above, make the time to take care of your body. Whether it is five minutes or 30 minutes, a little self-care goes a long way both physically and mentally.
Embrace the hamstring BURN and just do it!