Sep, 20, 2011
3 Tips for Happy Hamstrings
Keeping your hamstrings strong, happy, and NOT injured is important to the overall happiness of your fitness and yoga practice, not to mention the rest of your life.
Here are 3 tips, including specific alignment, that can help your hamstrings stay in great shape; safe and happy!
Tip 1. Keep ‘em Stretched:
Be sure to warm up your hamstrings with movement prep before working out, and stretch IN ALIGNMENT afterwards.
How? Well, whatever stretches you do, use the following alignment for optimal circulation and safe, effective stretching. If you’re unsure of this alignment, come to a yoga class or Yoga Boot Camp to learn – it makes a big difference!
First, with awareness hug your muscles to the bones so they feel strong and integrated.
Keeping that, widen your inner thighs and femurs back and apart – this will widen your pelvic floor while aligning your hamstring fibers for a safer stretch and creating the natural curve in your lower back.
Keeping the sense of integration and width, scoop your tail bone down and forward which draws the buttocks down and somewhat shortens the hamstrings so they are safer as you stretch. When you do this you’ll also feel your lower belly tone and your lower back lengthen.
Keep all of these actions and EXTEND from your pelvis out through your feet as you breathe into your stretches.
Tip 2. Keep em’ Strong:
Many exercises and yoga poses help to strengthen the hamstrings. Specifically, lunges are awesome exercises for hamstrings. Do all of the alignment mentioned above while you exercise to keep your hamstrings happy.
Tip 3. Hug ‘em In:
The “Hamstring Hug” as I like to call it, is actually a version of the yoga pose Supta Padangustasana.
Don’t worry about the Sanskrit, all you have to do is lie on your back, use the alignment in the first section on stretching, and then lift one leg up towards the sky. Interlace your fingers behind your thigh and push your leg AWAY from your chest while you also push your other leg more strongly into the floor.
If you have any ‘hot spots’ or strains in your hamstrings, put your hands on that spot and hug your hamstrings into the bone as you push your femur away from you. This is incredibly healing, so do it every day or more often, each time your hamstring talks to you asking for attention. If your hamstrings are injured, using optimal alignment is key, with emphasis on the tail bone scoop and extention.
If you apply these three tips with the alignment, your hamstrings will smile!
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